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THE BARREL MYSTERY
UXIV. OF CALIF. LIBRAE* , LOS ANGELES
WILLIAM J. FLYNN
Chief of the United States Secret Service
Author of "The Eagle's Eye"
THE JAMES A. McCANN COMPANY
Copyright 1919. by
THE JAMES A. McCANN COMPANY
AU Right* Reserved
Printed in the U.S. A
I. The Barrel Murder 1
II. What Was the Motive for the Murder? . . 18
III. Organized Terrorism 23
IV. Counterfeit Bills Appear 31
V. The Greenhorn's Story 44
VI. Don Pasquale, Black-Hand Skirmisher ... 51
VII. The Plant of the Counterfeiters 65
VIII. The Cow That Caused a Double Murder ... 83
IX. The Society 85
X. Meeting the Arch-Bandit 88
XI. The Black-Hander's Police Protection ... 97
XII. A Knock at the Door at 2 A. M 110
XIII. The Black-Handers in Session 117
XIV. Printing the Bad Money 130
XV. Some "After-Dinner" Confessions 140
XVI. Evading the Gang in Vain 148
XVII. Caught Again! 157
XVIII. Pinching the Greenhorn 169
XIX. The "Black-Hand" Doctor 172
XX. The "Black-Hand" Testament 199
XXI. "The Vermilion Flower on the Big Toe" . . 203
XXII. The Gentle Art of Writing "Black-Hand"
XXIII. Five Hundred Dollars for a Badly Written
XXIV. Methods of Blackmailing 221
XXV. Tracing a Letter 226
XXVI. "Black-Hand" Propaganda 239
XXVII. The Watchword of the "Black-Handers" . . 262
THE BARREL MYSTERY
THE BARREL MURDER
Where the East River swims around the foot
of Eleventh Street is an old abandoned wooden
dock that looks more like the broken skeleton of
a buried wreck than the thing it used to be. A
covey of barges are huddled against the wharf
opposite, and this wharf gradually becomes
solid pavement where the lumber yard begins.
It fronts the street with the most dilapidated
board fence in Christendom made up of broken
odds and ends covered with a crazy patchwork
of corrugated iron scrap stained and rusted by
the weather. If an old-time pirate — one of
those romantic devils with scarred and battered
features and a black patch over one eye —
should suddenly peer at you through one of the
many cracks in the splintered stockade you could
not be very surprised ; in fact, you would almost
expect it to happen.
Farther up is a livery stable, a mere hole in
a pile of bricks, once red now slavered over with
2 THE BARREL MYSTERY
white-wash once white. Outside is a man clip-
ping the mane of a truck horse with its harness
dragging in the filth. On the corner is a sa-
loon, such as you find on the East Side, shoul-
dering against the dry dock storage for live
poultry with chorus of cackling inmates. On
the corner opposite is a huge, green cheese of
a building occupied by various small manufac-
turers. The third corner bulges with the huge
cisterns of the gas works soiled and smeared with
soot and fumes. The fourth corner has become
historic. Every secret service man in the city
knows what is on the Northwest corner of East
Eleventh Street and Avenue D. They know
the old, battered red brick walls that belong to
the New York Mallet Works, walls that look
as if they have been scarred by a fusilade of ma-
chine guns, walls with rusted chicken-wire net-
ting before windows that are never cleaned ex-
cept when the rain is drumming against them,
walls that are broken by a huge portal closed
by a worm-eaten, wooden gate quite in keeping
with the whole thing. There is a ramshackle
tenement next door with rooms for rent and
shutters all drawn — shutters that were doubtless
a shrill green once upon a time but now camou-
THE BARREL MURDER 3
flaged by the blasts of blistering sun and cut-
ting rains into a crazy-quilt of strange hues,
shutters maimed and broken and dangling and
just hanging together. The only open aperture
in the weird and forbidden dwelling is the en-
trance, breathing filth and the sour odor of
poverty. Crowding close to the tenement is an
almost cavernous fodder and feed store, its
broken, soiled windows half -hidden behind shat-
tered boards and laths from which remnants of
bill-posters, stained and ragged, flutter now and
then. A heap of rubbish, garlanded with a jum-
ble of rusty wire and battered tin cans, adorns
the broken curb. A pair of cast-off baby shoes
with buttons dangling are sailing on a pool of
Desolate as the spot is it appeared even more
so on the morning of April fourteenth, 1903, in
the haze and the drizzling rain of an early hour.
But Mrs. Frances Conner s, an Irish woman,
did not notice these things as she crossed the
spot on her way to the bakeshop to get rolls
for breakfast. She was used to the place.
Wrapped up in the red sweater affected by
East Side women and bending her head under
her umbrella, she paid no attention to the very
4 THE BARREL MYSTERY
things that would have made a stranger pause
and gaze. As she slipped across the corner,
however, she noticed a barrel standing on the
curb in front of the mallet works. That barrel
was not there the day before. It was quite a
big barrel, the kind they use for shipping sugar.
Her feminine curiosity was aroused and she re-
traced her steps. In this instance curiosity re-
vealed a deed that horrified the entire country,
frightened the citizens of New York, and threw
the Detective Bureau at Police Headquarters
into a panic. The revelation also brought home
to many people the disquieting realization that
there were assassins in our midst that defied the
efforts of our police to cope with them.
An overcoat was thrown over the top of the
barrel. It was fairly damp but not quite wet,
indicating that it could not have been there very
long. Mrs. Conners raised the coat. Quickly
she let it drop and screamed. There was a man's
body crushed into the barrel. The body was in
a doubled-up position, both feet and one hand
sticking over the rim of the barrel.
Summoned by Mrs. Conners' screams the
neighborhood was on its feet in an instant. A
panicky crowd gathered on the fateful corner
THE BARREL MURDER 5
listening with gaping mouths and blanched faces
to the frightened chatter of the Irish woman.
Morbid curiosity prompted a few to raise the
coat and take a look. Every time this was done
some of the women would scream hysterically.
A policeman came running up. The body in
the barrel was still warm when the officer ex-
amined it after rolling the barrel over and drag-
ging the victim out. About the dead man's neck
was wound a strip of gunny-sack. When re-
moved it revealed more than a dozen wounds
any one of which would have resulted in death.
An ambulance surgeon came at a gallop. He
declared that the man could not have been dead
more than two hours at the most.
The corpse was taken to the Union Market
Police Station. The examination made there
led to the conclusion that the victim was a man
about the age of forty. His complexion was
swarthy and his ears were pierced with rings.
The clothing about the dead man's body was of
good quality, and there was nothing about the
physical make-up to indicate that he belonged to
the laboring class. The forehead was of the
high, receding type, and it was partly covered
with thin, curly hair of a light-brown tinge.
6 THE BARREL MYSTERY
The moustache was turning grey. On the left
cheek were two scars an inch or more in length
forming the letter "V" inverted. It was an
A closer inspection of the hody revealed that
at least two weapons must have been used by
the assassin or assassins. A narrow, two-edged
blade had evidently been used for inflicting the
wound just below the left ear. This stab was
made by a powerful hand for it was at least three
inches deep. A wound above the Adam's apple
penetrated sheer to the spinal cord, and was
doubtless done by the same weapon. Numerous
other and smaller wounds were of a like char-
acter. A slash extending from ear to ear across
the throat was probably done with a long, sharp
In searching the clothing of the dead man a
little brass bound crucifix was found. It was of
foreign make with a Latin motto on the scroll
work above the figure of the Saviour, and a
skull-and-cross-bones at the base of the crucifix.
This was found in a waistcoat, in which we also
located a silver watch-chain similar in make to
those common to the peasantry of Southern
Italy. The crucifix was one that is not common
THE BARREL MURDER 7
to any locality. There was an overcoat on the
body, and in one of the pockets two handker-
chiefs were found, one of which was small in size
and faintly perfumed. The only identification
mark on the clothing was on the shoes, which
were marked "Burt & Co., opposite Produce Ex-
change." The shoes were worn, and there was
a small patch on one of them. The gunny sack
about the throat was marked by the blood stains
only. Stencilled on the barrel were the initials
"W & T" on the bottom; on the sides "G 233."
It was a regulation sugar barrel, and the bot-
tom was covered with about three inches of saw-
dust soaked with blood. Onion peels and some
stubs of cigars of the stogie make were scat-
tered in the sawdust, the kind of cigars that are
sold in Italian stores and bar-rooms. A charred
note in the handwriting of a woman was found
in the barrel. Two written lines were in part
legible: "Giorne che venite — subito l'urgenza."
Translated the words might read: "Day that
you come — suddenly the urgency."
Every device of detection known to the New
York Detective Bureau was brought into serv-
ice. Inspector George W. McCloskey, head of
the bureau in person, aided by picked men,
8 THE BARREL MYSTERY
scoured every nook and corner of New York in
an effort to learn, first of all, the identity of the
victim. The whole uniformed force was also in-
structed to follow any little lead of informa-
tion which might indicate a connection with the
murder. No identification, however, developed.
I read of the murder in the afternoon news-
papers. This was on April fourteenth. I re-
called certain unusual activities among the band
of "Black Handers" on the night of April 12,
which was about thirty-odd hours before the mur-
der must have been committed. It came to my
mind that I had seen a face new among the mem-
bers of the gang. I went to the morgue and
looked at the dead man. I identified him as the
stranger who recently appeared at the haunts
of the Black Handers. (When I say Black
Handers, I mean also counterfeiters.) Two
other secret service men also identified him. The
body was taken out of the ice and measured ac-
cording to the Bertillon method.
For some time prior to the murder I had been
closely in touch with Morello, with Lupo and
others of their band. I had them under surveil-
lance for the purpose of arresting them on a
' charge of counterfeiting.
THE BARREL MURDER 9
On the night of April 12, having accumulated
considerable information concerning this band, I
personally picked up the trail and followed sev-
eral members of the band from their counter-
feiting headquarters in the cafe at Elizabeth and
Prince Streets. Just around the corner from
this cafe was the saloon of Ignazio Lupo, an-
other rendezvous of the gang. In the rear of
Lupo's saloon Giuseppe Morello conducted an
Trailing along, I followed several of the gang
to the butcher store of Vito La Duca, at No. 16
Stanton Street, which is just east of the Bowery.
Among those present in the store was Morello,
whom I had arrested four months previously for
counterfeiting. He was the only one of the
gang which I had arrested who had escaped con-
viction. Two others of the men present were
Antonio Geneva and Domenico Pecoraro, both
of whom I knew well. And while the three
whom I have already named were in animated
conversation near the rear of the shop, a fourth
man, a face new to me, stood apart from the
others near the door. He was the same man
found less than forty hours later in the barrel.
While the conversation took place in the rear
10 THE BARREL MYSTERY
of the shop I saw a piece of bagging being hung
up as a curtain over the glass in the door lead-
ing from the street into the store. It was but
a few minutes later that I saw a covered wagon
driving up to the door. Two men hopped down
from the seat and entered the shop. One of
them came out again after a couple of minutes
and drove away. Shortly after eight o'clock
that evening the visitors left La Duca's store.
They split up into two groups, the stranger go-
ing toward the Bowery with Morello and
I communicated with Inspector McCloskey,
then in charge of the Detective Bureau at Police
Headquarters, and told him what I have just
related. Immediately there was a rounding up
of the gang, my men pairing off with the head-
quarters detectives and locating eleven of the
members of the Black-Hand Society. Here is
the list of those arrested as suspects for the
Giuseppe Morello, of "No. 178 Chrystie Street.
Ignazio Lupo, of No. 433 West Fortieth
THE BARREL MURDER 11
Messina Genova, of No. 538 East Fifteenth
Vito La Duca, of No. 16 Stanton Street.
Pietro Inzarillo, of No. 226 Elizabeth Street.
Domenico Pecoraro, of No. 198 Chrystie
Lorenzo Lobido, of No. 308 Mott Street.
Giuseppe Fanara, of No. 25 Rivington
Giuseppe La Lamia, of No. 47 Delancey
Nicola Testa, of No. 16 Stanton Street.
Luciano Perrino, of No. 47 Delancey Street.
Perrino was also known as Tomasso Petto.
He was known among the members of the Black
Hand aggregation as "II Bove," meaning
Here was certainly a murderous aggregation
of the most pronounced criminal type. They
were all of them from Sicily. Most of them
were armed with a revolver, some also had
knives and even stilettos. On Morello the police
found a .45 caliber revolver. A knife was
tucked away in the waistband of his trousers, a
cork being fixed at the point of the blade so that
12 THE BARREL MYSTERY
it would not scratch his leg. Petto, the Ox,
whom Inspector McCafferty of the detective
bureau, and I arrested later, carried his pistol in
a holster and a sheath for his stiletto. Most of
the suspects had permits from the New York
Police Department to carry revolvers. It was
this incident, practically, which brought on the
crusade against, and the passing of the law for-
bidding, the carrying of dangerous weapons.
The prisoners were presently hurried to the
Morgue, where each of them had a look at the
dead man. They were asked individually wheth-
er they knew him. The answer was the usual
one — a shrug of the shoulders and the words "No
understand," "don't know." Morello and Peco-*
raro were both asked whether they knew the dead
man, but denied that they had ever seen him;
this in face of my seeing the two in the company
of the man now dead less than forty hours before
he was murdered. The dead man still remained
without a name, and without a friend or relative
coming to claim kinship.
Information began to percolate into my office
which induced me to take a trip to Sing Sing
prison in an effort to bring about the identifica-
tion of the dead man. It was plain to me al-
THE BARREL MURDER 13
ready then that the police force was failing in its
efforts. I resolved to take a personal interest in
the murder and to clear it up if possible.
At this point, let me inform the reader that an
anonymous letter was addressed to Lieutenant
Joseph Petrosino of the Italian Detective Squad,
then a part of the New York Police Department.
This letter proved to be of value in elucidating
particulars aiding us in identifying the man
found murdered in the barrel. The Lieutenant
showed this letter to me. Knowing that Petro-
sino was the best man in the Police Department
to handle the situation, I asked him to go to Sing
Sing Prison to investigate.
Petrosino took along a photograph of the mur-
dered man. Several of the convicts failed to
identify the photograph, but the third man ques-
tioned by Petrosino, Giuseppe DePriema, looked
at the photograph and said: "That is Maruena
Benedetto, my brother-in-law. What has hap-
DePriema completed the identification by cor-
roborating the watch chain and the crucifix. He
also described accurately the scar on Benedetto's
face. At first, DePriema was terror-stricken.
Later on, however, he grew angry, as only the
14 THE BARREL MYSTERY
Sicilian bent on murder can get angry. He gave
us the Buffalo address of Benedetto, and told us
all about the dead man's business as a stone cut-
ter. DePriema said that his brother-in-law had
been out of work for some months past, that he
had left Buffalo to associate himself with a band
of counterfeiters in New York.
It is my personal opinion that if the New York
police had not blundered after arresting the gang
named the murderer would have been located in
short order. The police made the mistake of
locking up the gang together, so that they could
speak and plan together. Each man should
have been incarcerated separately. The detec-
tives also failed to examine all the letters and all
the papers taken from the prisoners when
Returning to New York from Sing Sing,
Petrosino came directly to me. Together we
went to Police Headquarters and asked to be
shown the letters and papers taken from the sus-
pects. Among the litter I found a pawn-ticket
for a watch which had been pledged at a Bowery
pawnshop for one dollar on the day of the mur-
der. The ticket was found on Petto, the Ox.
It was positively identified by the wife of Bene-
THE BARREL MURDER lg
detto, who was brought on from Buffalo. Cer-
tain markings and engravings were described by
Mrs. Benedetto, which could have been known
only to one closely acquainted with the time-
With this evidence to proceed upon, Petto, the
Ox, was indicted by the Grand Jury, after being
held without bail on the murder charge. Mean-
while, the other suspects were turned out by
Police Magistrate Barlow because there was not
sufficient evidence to hold them on the murder
charge. Murder in the first degree was the
charge against Petto.
From then on evidence began to accumulate
that convinced me personally of the existence of
an organized "Black Hand" society in New
York City. Eminent counsel was engaged and
a large fund raised by the criminal associates of
Petto, the Ox, to fight for his freedom. During
the time that Petto was incarcerated, informa-
tion came to me that each and every one of the
gang was from the same town in Sicily; a place
named Corleone, about twenty-seven miles from
Palermo. It was in Palermo that Lieutenant
Joseph Petrosino, of the New York Police Force,
was murdered eventually while in quest of spe-
16 THE BARREL MYSTERY
cial information for Police Commissioner Theo-
dore Bingham. We also ferreted out the sig-
nificant fact that in order to gain the inner circle
of the secret society, which was furnishing funds
for the defense of Petto, the applicant would
have to he from the town of Corleone.
When Petto had been held in the Tombs
Prison for more than four months his attorney
asked that he be released on his own recogni-
zance, the attorney stating that there was not suf-
ficient evidence upon which to bring the accused
to trial with any fair hope of convicting him. No
sooner was Petto released than he disappeared
from his accustomed haunts with the gang in
But Petto did not escape the eye of the Secret
Service. He was traced to Pittston, Pa. Nor
did Petto escape a blood relative of the murdered
man. Probably I had better explain at this
point that there is an unwritten law among the
Italians of southern Sicily that when a member
of a family is murdered, the crime must be
avenged by a blood relative of the murdered per-
son. If no blood relative is available, a kinsman
by marriage assumes the task.
Petto soon became the leader of a band of
THE BARREL MURDER 17
black-handers who preyed upon the Italian min-
ers in Pittston. Then one night, when the
streets were slippery with a cold, drizzling rain,
there came an ominous knock at his door. Petto
sensed that something was wrong. He made
ready for any emergency and drew his big re-
volver. But the unknown visitor was quicker
than the murderer of Benedetto, and the aim was
certain. Five bullets stopped the Black Hander
forever. A dagger was sunk into the heart of
Petto, the Ox, to make doubly sure that he was
not playing 'possum. Beside the warm body of
Petto his revolver was found fully loaded. The
hand holding the revolver was partly shot away.
On his body was discovered a little brass-bound
crucifix with a skull-and-cross-bones at the
Saviour's feet, an exact duplicate of that taken
from the body of the man found in the barrel.
As far as the police records show, the avenger
of Benedetto has never been apprehended.
Whether the avenger has since suffered a fate
similar to his victim I cannot at this moment say.
WHAT "WAS THE MOTIVE FOR THE MURDER?
How do I know that Petto, the Ox, murdered
Benedetto? you would ask.
And what could be the motive for his crime?
Follow me a little further.
In January, 1903, several months before Bene-
detto's body was found in the barrel, three Ital-
ians were arrested in the City of Yonkers. They
were Isadoro Crocervera, Salvatore Romano and
Giuseppe DePriema. The latter is the brother-
in-law of the barrel-murder victim. The three
men were apprehended by the local police in
Yonkers on the charge of passing counterfeit
five-dollar notes of the National Iron Bank of
Morristown, New Jersey. The secret service
men were well aware that these notes were being
imported from Italy by the Morello gang.
When I was called into the case, the Yonkers
police, who made the arrest, told me that the
three men were accompanied by another Italian,
WHAT WAS THE MOTIVE? 19
a short fellow, who got away. Knowing the
ways of the gang, it was plain to me that the
escaped Italian was the treasurer of the crew
passing the counterfeit money. Such a treas-
urer is always hiding in the distance with the
greater bulk of the counterfeit bills for the pur-
pose of making a get-away if the passers get into
trouble and are arrested. The treasurer is sup-
posed to rush away to the secret meeting place
of the Black-Hand Society, where a counsel is
held to decide just what plan to follow in the
effort to get the members who have been arrested
out of their peril.
From the description given me of the Italian
who made his get-away I recognized him as a
counterfeiter already registered in the files of the
Secret Service as Number Six. I was also able
to identify Crocervera and DePriema as mem-
bers of the Corleone gang.
My next move was to bring the Yonkers offi-
cers to New York and place them where they
could have a good look at Number Six. The
officers identified the man without hesitation.
Number Six was arrested, therefore, on Febru-
ary 19, and gave the name of Giuseppe Giallam-
bardo. He got six years.
20 THE BARREL MYSTERY
The Black Handers were puzzled. They
could not understand how it happened that Gial-
lambardo had come into the toils unless one of
the three men arrested had "squealed." And
perhaps I should say right here that the gang
never realized they were ever under surveillance,
and that every move made by them individually
was noted in the daily reports of Secret Service
sent to Washington.
When Crocervera and DePriema were brought
to my office I knew in advance that neither of
them would talk, having had the characteristics
of the men recorded long before they were ar-
rested. However, in order to give Crocervera
the impression that DePriema had told me a lot
of the workings of the gang, I hit upon the idea
of keeping DePriema in my inner office for sev-
eral hours while Crocervera remained in an outer
office. I was timing my effort for a purpose.
As DePriema was leaving, I stepped to the door
with him and shook his hand warmly and patted
him on the back in order that Crocervera, seeing
the performance, might gain the impression that
DePriema had confessed all he knew about the
gang. Naturally, the object of this move was
to tempt Crocervera to talk and give information
WHAT WAS THE MOTIVE? 21
important to the government. But Crocervera
did not talk. The subsequent arrest of Giallam-
bardo served to strengthen the impression al-
ready planted in the mind of Crocervera that De-
Priema had betrayed him, and we overheard Cro-
cervera telling this to the members of the gang
while they were in our office.
The gang was not in position to tale revenge
on DePriema, as he was in Sing Sing prison,
where the three men had been sent upon convic-
tion on the charge of passing counterfeit money.
Following the hereditary Sicilian custom, the
gang then proceeded to select a blood relative of
DePriema and mark him for murder. There
being no male blood relative of DePriema on
this side of the Atlantic, the Black Hand Society
decided that the nearest male relative must pay
the penalty for DePriema's treason. Benedetto,
the brother-in-law, was chosen as the sacrifice.
These details of the motive of the murder, and
the society's choosing Petto, the Ox, to do the
killing were confessed to me several years later
by members of the gang after I succeeded in con-
victing them for counterfeiting and had them
sentenced to long terms in the Federal Peniten-
tiary at Atlanta, Georgia.
22 THE BARREL MYSTERY
As to the identity of Benedetto's kinsman, who
made certain of his aim at Petto, the Ox, near
the Italian rendezvous where "II Bove" held
sway in the little Pennsylvania city, I can only
answer at the present writing that the kinsman
was not DePriema, because the latter was still
in Sing Sing Prison when the murder of the man
in the barrel was avenged.
From what has been related so far, I presume
the reader may gain some idea of the dangerous
type of men whom I refer to as members of the
You are now familiar with the kind of punish-
ment meted out to one whom the gang suspects
of having betrayed a member. You have also
been acquainted with the Sicilian custom of re-
venge by way of an actual example showing how
the slayer of the man in the barrel came to his
end in a manner that is as certain as daylight fol-
lows darkness. It is the racial idea of the an-
tique Hebrew law, "An eye for an eye and a
tooth for a tooth." The Sicilian "vendetta" de-
mands a life for a life. You may have noted
further that the police of New York and the
machinery of the law failed to track down the
slayer of the man in the barrel. A circumstance
24 THE BARREL MYSTERY
that makes it singularly difficult for the author-
ities to cope with this type of criminals is that
the Sicilian does not ask the police for help when
a member of his family is murdered. He keeps
it quiet. And as quietly a blood relative of the
slain person assumes the responsibility which we
Americans place on the police and the courts.
The end of Petto, the Ox, shows exactly what
happens when individual vengeance succeeds in
place of justice meted out by a court of law.
The reader will remember that when the crim-
inal band, which the police rounded up in con-
nection with the barrel murder, were turned out
by the police magistrate, because there was in-
sufficient evidence to hold them for the murder
of Benedetto, the suspects dropped out of sight
as far as the police of New York were concerned.
The Secret Service kept its eagle eye on them,
however. Every suspect was carefully "shad-
owed" by a special operative. We expected that
they would gravitate back to their haunts, and
they did. We spotted them in such places as the
cafe of Pietro Inzarillo, at No. 226 Elizabeth
Street, and in the dark, little Italian grocery
shop of Ignazio Lupo, at No. 8 Prince Street,
which is just around the corner from Inzarillo's
ORGANIZED TERRORISM 25
place. We also located suspects loafing around
the dingy, garlic-smelling restaurant of Giu-
seppe Morello, tucked away in the rear of Lupo's
grocery shop, like an evil thing afraid of the
light of day.
Criminals wanted by Uncle Sam are not suf-
fered to drop from the sight of the Secret Serv-
ice. Members of this gang were busy in the
counterfeit money line. The government was
necessarily interested in following their move-
ments. Consequently I stayed right on the job
with my men at trailing and spotting the sus-
pects. After a while I had in my possession
quite a neat bundle of facts that gradually dis-
closed to us the impulse and the motives behind
this crime-hardened gang of men. I say with-
out the slightest hesitation that the basic, under-
lying motive of these men is a fierce and uncom-
promising passion to get rich quick. That is
what makes them murderous criminals. It is the
same get-rich-quick impulse that we find among
unscrupulous business men and gamblers, but it
is of a much more dangerous caliber and preg-
nant with every sinister motive to the most hor-
rible and debased forms of crime. It is true
that the "Black-Handers" got a pretty good
26 THE BARREL MYSTERY
start in this country before the authorities were
alive to the danger, but it is also true that the
Secret Service did finally succeed in rounding up
the leaders and their henchmen, reducing the ne-
farious operations to a minimum. Had this not
been done just about the time it was actually
done, the "Black Hand" Society would have in-
creased its stranglehold upon the population to
a point where the police might not have been able
to guarantee the personal safety of the citizens.
Even at the present time, when the authorities
may be said to have the situation well in hand,
the danger of renewed "Black Hand" activities
by other groups would not be removed if the
Secret Service were to relax its vigilance for ever
so short a time. The threat of Bolshevism, al-
ready flaring upon the horizon, as a menacing
torch over murder-maddened mobs defying law
and order, would be a welcome brother. In the
chaos created, if the Red Bolsheviks should ever
succeed in demoralizing this country, the male-
factors of the "Black Hand" Society would
thrive as maggots in a cheese. A mixed brand
of terrorism would soon show its evil head, a
mixed brand that would bring every decent citi-
ORGANIZED TERRORISM 27
zen to shudder at the mention of BLACK
In looking into the motives of the men who
represented the Sicilian Mafia, or "Black Hand"
Society, in this country, I was fortunate to elu-
cidate not a few particulars that go to show how
these criminals actually operate.
The Black Handers here would terrorize their
less courageous countrymen from the provinces
of Southern Italy. They had been at this form
of blackmail for some years. Lupo and Morello
were the leaders. The money obtained by black-
mail and threats of various kinds was divided
among a few men, but most of the funds went
to Lupo and Morello. As fast as Morello got
money he would farm it out by acquiring a bar-
ber shop or set up a man in a shoe repairing shop.
He also invested in several Italian restaurants.
Lupo was in the habit of putting his money into
Italian grocery stores. He soon became one of
the greatest importers of olive oil and Italian
lemons in New York, City. It is known that
more than $200,000 was accumulated by the two
leaders in a few years. This estimate is based
on testimony submitted by people who have com-
'28 THE BARREL MYSTERY
plained since of the way in which they were ter-
Lupo and Morello were an ideal combination
to force leadership upon the "Black Handers"
in this country. Morello was the rough, bearish
and hairy-looking monster, cruel as a fiend, and
always unshaven. Lupo was the well-dressed,
soft-spoken, slick-looking "gent" of pretended
refinement. He, too, was cruel and heartless.
Lupo was the business man of the two.
Morello had in his make-up more of the cun-
ning of the born criminal. He was cautious
like the fox and ferocious like a maddened bull.
Lupo was always suggesting new business ways
for the investing of the blackmail money. To
Lupo's scheming brain can also be traced the
proposition to build a tenement house with such
funds as he and Morello could spare from the
various barber shops and the importing ventures
in which they were interested.
They built one tenement house and sold it at
a profit. They built several other tenement
houses and likewise sold these at a profit. Every
time they would take the money and reinvest in
more buildings. It was also at Lupo's sugges-
tion that a scheme was concocted to form an as-
ORGANIZED TERRORISM 29
sociation for building purposes with the object
of selling stock in the association to Italians from
Southern Italy only and exclusively. The asso-
ciation was called the Ignatz Florio Association
The main purpose of this association was to
accumulate sufficient funds to erect two rows of
Italian tenements in One Hundred and Thirty-
seventh Street and One Hundred and Thirty-
eighth Street and Cypress Avenue, in the Bronx.
Stock in the association was placed on sale for
three dollars and five dollars per share. When
the dividends came due, payment was made or
the dividend turned over to the account of the
holder of the stock. The tenements went up in
Lupo and Morello finally succeeded in getting
the control of the association entirely in their
own hands. They used the funds to develop
their business ventures, Morello specializing in
barber and shoe shops, Lupo sticking to his olive
oil importing enterprise. Some of the contrac-
tors who put up the tenements were paid, and
some were not. Those who had furnished mate-
rials for the buildings received some manner of
payment, but there were several who got noth-
30 THE BARREL MYSTERY;
ing. Law suits began to threaten the two lead-
ers. The holders of the stock began to inquire
rather insistently about dividends.
At this juncture, Lupo and Morello stuck
their heads together and hatched a deep-dyed
scheme for making counterfeit money. They
would establish a large counterfeiting plant.
They would take the counterfeit stuff and give
it to the stockholders in the association. For
every thirty-five cents which the association owed
to a holder of stock Morello and Lupo would
give one full dollar in counterfeit money. The
person receiving the counterfeit money would be
obliged to dispose of it according to the directions
given by Lupo and Morello, who held themselves
competent to instruct the members of the associa-
tion so that the bad, money could be disposed of
without risk of arrest. This counterfeiting
scheme was hatched in the summer of 1908 in the
rear of Morello's evil-smelling, dingy little spa-
COUNTERFEIT BILLS APPEAR
In May, 1909, counterfeit two-dollar and five-
dollar bills began to appear in many of the large
cities, such as New York, Philadelphia, Pitts-
burgh, Buffalo, Chicago and Boston. Some of
the bills were distributed as far away as New
Orleans. The simultaneous appearance of the
bills in so many different cities indicated quite
plainly that a large band was operating in the
distribution of the bad money.
Ever since Lupo and Morello and his asso-
ciates were arrested in 19&8, and were turned
out by the Police Magistrate because there was
not sufficient evidence to hold them for the barrel
murder, I had not lost sight of them. They
were being trailed all the time, day and night.
As a result of my watchfulness, I learned many
things that have since proven to be very useful
to the government in its efforts to keep the coun-
terfeiting of money down to a minimum.
32 THE BARREL MYSTERY
Among other things, I learned that Morello
made frequent trips to Chicago and other cities
where the counterfeit money seemed to flourish.
Morello made a flying trip to New Orleans on
one occasion when my men tracked him all the
way. When his train arrived in Philadelphia we
knew he was on board; when the train reached
Baltimore we knew he was on the train, and when
he arrived at Washington we knew where the
"Black-Hand" leader was; and so on, till he ar-
rived in New Orleans. On his arrival there cer-
tain Italian confederates were waiting for him
and escorted their chief to a little Italian cafe
where a conference was held in a back room last-
ing a little longer than two hours. Immediately
after the conference was over, Morello took the
next train back to New York.
Now enters into the story a man by the name
of Antonio Cecala. Remember the name of this
man, for he plays an important part in the game
for the remainder of the story. Cecala, whom
we will establish here as the third executive
bandit in the Lupo-Morello group, made trips to
Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Buffalo. Cecala
proved a valuable aid to the two "Black-Hand"
COUNTERFEIT BILLS APPEAR 33
Lupo was tracked by Secret Service men to
cities where the counterfeit money was circulat-
ing. Another thread of investigation disclosed
the not unimportant fact that there were mem-
bers of the Ignatz Florio Association scattered
all over the United States, especially in the pop-:
ulous centers where the five- and two-dollarj
counterfeit bills were being circulated. Besides,'
I was getting information daily from banks and
merchants that the bills were being "pushed on
the market" in abundance. I also learned that'
Italians from Corleone, Sicily, were the only.
Italians who were trusted in these centers by the,
Morello-Lupo gang, pointing to the probability;
that the bad bills were being circulated and
"pushed" through native Corleonians exclusively.
Another clue showed that the bills were being
manufactured somewhere in the immediate vicin-
ity of New York City. I fine-combed the State
of New York upon learning this. Naturally,'
my attention was focused on the Corleone Ital-
ians in New York City. In this way I gathered
that Lupo had fled from his creditors, to whom
he owed money in connection with his Italian
grocery stores business. I finally succeeded in
locating him living in Ardonia, New York, which
34 THE BARREL MYSTERY
is not very far from Highland on the Hudson
Past experience with these Morello-Lupo
counterfeiters had taught me not to make an
arrest until I had the net completely woven
around the men who made the money. It is fu-
tile to arrest the "pusher s-of-the-queer" — that is,
the men who distribute the bad money among the
little Italian grocery stores and shoe shops, small
merchants, and the like. The arrest of these men
only serves to warn the manufacturers of the bad
money that the Secret Service is on the trail.
The factory then closes down, and it is moved
away to another location. Even if a conviction
of the distributor of the bad money is obtained,
no definite information can be obtained from the
convicted man. He could not tell the govern-
ment anji;hing of value even if he wished to
"squeal." As a rule, all that a "pusher" or dis-
tributor can tell is where he got the bad money.
Here is where Antonio Cecala looms up as a
very important criminal factor in the counterfeit-
ing game as plied by the Black Handers under
the leadership of Lupo and Morello. Remem-
ber this : Lupo and Morello always remain in the
background. Cecala was the connecting link be-
COUNTERFEIT BILLS APPEAR 35
tween the two leaders and the "pushers-of-the-
Cecala was the man who got in touch with
those who wanted to buy the counterfeit money
to circulate it at the rate of thirty-five cents on
H Cecala was careful to deal only with men whom
he knew — men who were from Corleone. He
i would pick six of these as his deputies. These
deputies would choose six others, and so on.
Cecala made business trips to other cities and
took the orders for counterfeit money. He also
had the say as to whom should be the agent in
each city directly responsible to him. These va-
rious deputies were required to give their O. K.
before any money would be sent to or given to
any person by Cecala.
As soon as Cecala would receive a request from
a deputy for money to be passed to certain Ital-
ians asking for it, it was Cecala's job to go to
Lupo and Morello and obtain their sanction be-
fore the money would be handed along down the
line from the distributing plant to the person
buying it at thirty-five cents on the dollar for the
obvious purpose of "pushing" it off on some un-
36 THE BARREL MYSTERY
The reader can now readily appreciate that
with a crafty organization like this the "pusher'*
could not testify, even if he desired, that he had
got the bad money from either Lupo or Morello.
In fact, the "pusher" never even heard of either
of the leaders except in some indirect way. Al-
ways, however, when the money was passed over
to the pusher by one of Cecala's deputies or re-
mote subordinates a sinister warning was given
not to "squeal" if caught — a warning always por-
tentous with the threat of murder.
To "squeal" meant fatal punishment. The
man in the barrel is grim testimony to that fact.
At about this time I had pretty good evidence
that the leaders of the counterfeiting gang were
none other than Morellu and Lupo, as I had sus-
pected from the outset. Still, the time was not
ripe to make arrests that would result in dead-
sure convictions. It is true the two leaders could
be arrested and charged with the making of these
counterfeit notes, but where was the evidence
connecting them with either the passing or the
manufacture of the bills?
Let me here recite the case of Giuseppe Bos-
carini just to help the reader appreciate how very
difficult it would be, at that juncture, to get
COUNTERFEIT BILLS APPEAR 37
Lupo and Morello involved in a way that would
satisfy a court and jury that they were legally
guilty of making and of passing counterfeit
While in Pittston, Pa., I learned that a man
in that city named Sam Locino knew Boscarini,
a New York agent of the Black Hand Society.
After talking with Locino for some time he told
me that Boscarini had made several trips to
Pittston lately, and that Boscarini was willing to
sell counterfeit money to him. When Locino
mentioned Boscarini's name I felt sure that the
Pittston man was talking of one of Cecala's most
In order to see how far Locino could go with
Boscarini, and whether Cecala's deputy would
turn counterfeit money over to Locino, I made
the latter write a letter in the Sicilian dialect to
Boscarini asking the deputy of Cecala to send a
sample of the counterfeit money in order that
Locino might see what it was like and whether
he thought he would be able to get rid of some
of it in Pittston.
When Locino had finished the letter I took it
over to the post office, and with the Mayor of
the city and the Chief of Police as witnesses I
38 THE BARREL MYSTERY
had the letter registered and addressed to Bos-
carini. I came back on the same train that
brought the letter to New York, and when Bos-
carini signed for it at the registry window, this
act of his was noted down by men of the Secret
The next day Boscarini went to a sub post-
office on the Bowery and bought a special deliv-
ery and a two-cent stamp. He placed the
stamps upside down on a large white envelope.
An agent of the Service saw him buy the stamps
and place them on the envelope; also, the agent
saw the fictitious return address which Boscarini
put on the envelope: the agent saw this as Bos-
carini put the letter into the slot at the sub-
I returned to Pittston on the same train with
the letter and notified Locino that the letter was
addressed to him at the General Delivery. He
got the letter and opened it in my presence. It
contained a counterfeit two-dollar bill and a
counterfeit five-dollar bill of the kind made by
the Morello gang.
Then I sent Locino to New York and gave
him thirty-five dollars with which to buy one
hundred dollars' worth of the counterfeit money
COUNTERFEIT BILLS APPEAR 39
from Boscarini. I saw to it that the genuine
money was secretly marked for the purpose of
"getting" it on some member of the gang when
the raid would come and in which I contemplated
taking Morello and Lupo together with Cecala,
Boscarini and others.
Locino contrived to meet Boscarini at Mul-
berry and Prince Streets, and the two talked it
over. An appointment was made by Boscarini
to meet Locino again on the same day.
One of the things I had ferreted out mean-
while was to locate the headquarters for the dis-
tribution of the bad money as being at No. 231
East Ninety-seventh Street. Secret Service
men had hired apartments across the street from
this place, and were watching every one that en-
tered and left the place. Their view was inter-
fered with by great boxes of macaroni and other
Italian groceries piled high in the windows of the
store. My men also learned that it was here,
behind the macaroni boxes, that secret confer-
ences were being held between Cecala, Morello,
Lupo and others. A conference would never
last more than fifteen minutes. The store was
run by Morello, Lupo and others. It was a
wholesale store. The small Italian grocers in
40 THE BARREL MYSTERY
New York were compelled to make their pur-
chases there at the peril of being wrecked by a
bomb if they did not.- To this store went Bos-
carini when he left Locino at Mulberry and
Prince Streets. At the Ninety-seventh Street
store Boscarini met Cecala and several others of
the gang. Returning to meet Locino, Boscarini
handed over a roll of bills to the Pittston man.
Secret Service men saw the bills handed over.
Locino handed the bills to me. When the bills
were examined they were found to be counter-
feits of the same make as those previously sent to
Locino in the letter.
Even then we made no arrest. It would have
been a foolish piece of business at that time, for I
was busy on other ends of the case pulling in
valuable threads of evidence. After the lapse of
a week Locino came to New York from Pittston
and purchased more of the counterfeit money
from Boscarini, giving in return genuine money,
which was secretly marked.
Finally the time arrived when the government
had evidence which was deemed sufficient to con-
vict most of the band. The raid was made.
When Cecala was seized and searched there was
found on him two of the genuine bills with the
COUNTERFEIT BILLS APPEAR 41
secret marks which I had placed on the bills
given to Locino.
Locino's testimony, the reader will see, was
necessary in order to secure a conviction of Bos-
carini and Cecala. By Locino's telling what
part he had played in the game the government
was put in position to verify the following com-
plete chain of evidence : Locino writing the let-
ter to Boscarini and asking for the counterfeit
samples; Boscarini receiving the letter, and re-
ceipting for it; Boscarini posting the answering
letter to Locino, the letter on which the Secret
Service man saw the stamps placed upside down
on the long white envelope. Then, further, Lo-
cino receiving the letter at the General Delivery,
and his opening it in my presence and finding the
counterfeit two- and five-dollar bills. Locino
could testify that he got counterfeit money from
Boscarini and had given him the genuine money
secretly marked in return for the spurious bills,
thus directly connecting Boscarini with the
charge of passing spurious money. Also, Lo-
cino could verify my testimony of secret marks
being placed on the bills, so that when the marked
bills were found on Cecala, Locino could identify
them as the ones he had given to Boscarini in
42 THE BARREL MYSTERY
return for the counterfeit money passed by Bos-
carini to him. Locino could thus connect Bos-
carini and Cecala. Other evidence connecting
Cecala with Boscarini was in my possession, but
which I need not give here. It merely served to
corroborate the testimony of Lucino.
Locino was perfectly well aware what it meant
to go on the witness stand and "squeal." He had
heard of the man in the barrel. After some
weeks of thinking the matter over Locino loos-
ened up and declared that he had an ancient
wrong to right ! He never explained to me fur-
ther just what his grievance against the "Black
Handers" was. He finally made up his mind to
take the stand and tell what he knew.
Needless to say that Boscarini was sentenced
to fifteen years in the Federal Penitentiary at
Atlanta, Georgia. But it is worth mentioning
here that shortly after Boscarini received his sen-
tence Locino was shot twice in the back of the
head at Pittston. He survived, however, and is
confident that he will be able to take care of him-
self for many years to come.
The point I want to make clear by relating this
story of facts is as follows:
I traced the connection of Cecala with the
COUNTERFEIT BILLS APPEAR 43
passing of these counterfeit bills by finding the
genuine money with the secret marks on him.
Nevertheless, I had not reached the leaders,
Lupo and Morello, who were still in the back-
ground serenely confident that they could not be
legally implicated in the passing or the manu-
facturing of the counterfeit bills.
True, we could prove that Cecala and Morello
and Lupo had met many times, and that they
had been to the houses of one another and eaten
at the same table. Other evidence of a like na-
ture could be produced; but such evidence was
not sufficient to convict the two leaders of the
charge of either passing, having in their posses-
sion, making or causing to be made, any of the
counterfeit notes which were being poured into
the great centers of population at one and the
same time. Had I stopped with Locino's tes-
timony, I never could have got the leaders. But
the Secret Service never leaves the trail of the
counterfeiter, and the way in which the long arm
of the government reached out for the "Black
Hand" leaders, who loomed in the shadowy dis-
tance like the silhouettes of devils incarnate, will
be told here for the first time.
THE GREENHORN'S STORY
In the latter part of June, 1907, a young Ital-
ian landed in New York from the southern part
of Italy. He was an ambitious sort of clever
chap. He not only spoke his mother tongue
well, but he had a good command of Spanish
and French and was posted on several of the
dialects current in the "boot" or southern part of
Italy. He knew very little of the English
tongue, however. Among his various accom-
plishments he was also a practical printer.
The career of this young man up to the time
of his landing at Ellis Island is significant, to
say the least. He was a native of the little town
of Cananzero in Calabria, one of the provinces
of southern Italy. He had been a teacher there
and had taught technical subjects. Later on he
taught in private, and finally became an instruc-
tor in government schools. From Italy he had
THE GREENHORN'S STORY 45
gone to Brazil, where he spent seven years of
his time. He had engaged in teaching school
there, and he had also worked at the printing
trade in Rio de Janeiro, the capital of Brazil.
At one time he had been engaged by the Italian
Consul at Rio de Janeiro to assist that official in
The young man's name was Antonio Viola
In course of time he proved to be the connect-
ing link that joined the chain of evidence identi-
fying Lupo and Morello legally and inseparately
with the counterfeiting gang which manufac-
tured and distributed the counterfeit money in
the summer of 1909. His own story in full,
which has never been made public before, is given
here. This story of his contains many state-
ments which ought to interest the public, state-
ments that were not divulged by Comito even
at the trial where he was the pivot upon which
turned the conviction of the most notorious and
troublesome band of counterfeiters this country
ever knew. As a result of his damaging evi-
dence, the gang vowed to destroy him. He has
changed his identity completely meanwhile, how-
ever, and was last heard from in South America,
46 THE BARREL MYSTERY
where he is very prosperous. He has a good
deal more courage than his own story, as told by
him, would indicate. He will never be reached
by the Black-Hand gang without several of them
paying with their lives for his. He is confident
Comito's own story follows:
"The reader will pardon me,' if, in reading this
story of my life in New York, there are errors of
language and periods not well expressed.
"During the latter part of 1908 and a good
part of 1909, 1 had occasion to know many male-
factors who horrified me from the very start, and
whom I gradually came to fear as I studied
their brutal character. I refrained from de-
nouncing these men to the police because I was
constantly in danger of losing my life had I
"These men were the leaders of the notorious
'Black-Hand' Society, which spreads terror
among the Italians all over the United States.
While among them I studied the badness, the
power, the brutality and the arrogance of the
counterfeiter and the assassin.
"They were not a very civil lot. They were
villains incarnate. One of their characteristic
THE GREENHORN'S STORY 47
traits is that one alone would not commit a crime
because of cowardice. When a 'job' was to be
executed it was always carried out by three or
four directed by a 'corporal,' who was put in
charge by the head bandit. This 'corporal'
bossed the job, remaining all the while in the
distance so that in case the operations of those
committing the deed were discovered by the po-
lice the 'corporal' would be sure to escape and
report the circumstances to the head bandit of
the society. The head bandit would in turn no-
tify all the other members, when a counsel would
be called at which steps would be taken to aid
those apprehended by the police.
"What puzzled me not a little was the fact that
when it came to going to trial for an offense no
eye-witness would ever appear in court to tell
of the crime with which the members under ar-
rest might be charged. Those arrested usually
gave fictitious names, and when placed on trial
they were always freed. These men governed
their association by secret orders. They oper-
ated on a vast scale and extended their crime
even to the kidnapping of little children."
At this point Comito enters a long apology
to those people of Southern Italy who are good
48 THE BARREL MYSTERY
citizens and law-abiding. He does not refer in
this article, he says, to the honest Sicilians, who
labor and earn their living honestly. It is of
the malefactors, he says, that he speaks.
Comito then tells of entering New York and
meeting his brother at the Battery. He relates
his sensations at seeing the tall buildings of New
York and the hurrying crowds in the noisy
After going to the home of his brother in
Bleecker Street, Comito says:
"During the dinner I was carefully advised
by my uncle, an intelligent man and very cau-
tious, having served the Italian government for
twelve years as non-commissioned officer in the
line infantry. He said, 'Do not acquire bad
friendships. Be careful of traps that strangers
may lay for you. There exists in New York a
band of malefactors which bear the name of
Black Hand. Every day this band commits
crimes, assassinating persons, setting fire to
houses, breaking in doors, exploding bombs, and
"He told me also never to tell any one where
I worked and how much I earned. He advised
me to think only of bettering my condition and
THE GREENHORN'S STORY 49
that of my family, because in America, in time,
the man with a good will can acquire a good
Perhaps these words that follow may be of
interest to the reader in getting an insight into
the mentality of the newly arrived immigrant.
"My only wish was to work and put aside
something; to economize, and so help the condi-
tion of my family and provide some day for my
daughter that she might have a profession. I
did not think of evil, and hoped from day to day
to find occupation. I was a printer, and, though
I did not know English, I felt confident of find-
ing work in some Italian printing-office."
Comito then tells of finding employment in
the Italian printing house of M. Dassori, at No.
178 Park Row, where he was getting along well.
He tells of sending money to Italy to his wife
and children. He tells of his brother here intro-
ducing him to honest Italians of the working
class and of how he joined the order of the Sons
of Italy and also the Foresters of America.
Comito then relates his rapid rise in the Forest-
ers, mentioning also how he became Supreme
Deputy of the Order of the Sons of Italy, be-
50 THE BARREL MYSTERY
sides being chosen a member for the Congress
of Italians abroad, which was held in Rome in
1908. He dwells on his losing employment be-
cause of lack of work in the place where he was
employed. After getting employment again he
finds himself once more out of a place, about the
beginning of September, 1908. He tells very
frankly of taking up with a lady named Cat-
erina and how they shared the apartment which
he furnished as well as his means afforded. He
and Caterina lived together, he says, "respect-
ing one another as husband and wife." Describ-
ing his affair with Caterina, who, by the way,
enters in some measure into the counterfeiting
story, Comito says :
"I, together with Caterina, lived agreeably,
and what was earned weekly was divided equally,
and we did not take into account which earned
the more or the less. We made an honest front
with friends. I discharged my duties with the
societies with zeal."
DON PASQUALE, BLACK-HAND SKIRMISHER
Here is where Comito gets into touch with a
skirmisher, if I may' use the word, of the Black
Handers. The skirmisher is the scout for Lupo
and Morello who are, as usual, in the distance,
their minds ablaze with the idea of getting rich
beyond the dreams of Aladdin by a bold coun-
terfeiting stroke. Comito is a printer out of
work. Lupo and Morello have agents who tell
them of such things. Comito might be the man
to run a printing press and print the counterfeit
bills. And so, I will turn you over to Comito.
Listen to his own story once more :
"On the evening of November 5, 1908, I was
at a meeting of the Order of the Sons of Italy,
being a duty I owed the society as Supreme Dep-
uty to attend the meetings of the different
lodges. As was the custom toward the end of
the meeting I chatted with the various members
52 THE BARREL MYSTERY
of the order, some of whom I knew by name and
others whom I knew only by sight.
"That same night a member by the name of
Don Pasquale, a Sicilian, came to me, clasped
my hand, and without further ceremony said:
'Professor, will you take a walk with me? I
have something to say that might interest you.'
"When we were outside, Don Pasquale said
" 'I know you are seeking work and that you
are a good printer. A friend of mine is propri-
etor of a printing shop in Philadelphia. If you
wish I can recommend you; but you must go to
Philadelphia to work.'
" 'It makes no difference to me where I
work,' " was Comito's answer.
Don Pasquale got Comito's address and said
that he would arrange to have his Philadelphia
printer friend meet Comito at the latter's home.
Comito then explains that the title "Don" is used
by Sicilians as a mark of respect among the
working class, and that the word "Uncle" is em-
ployed in addressing people advanced in years
in the same sense.
Comito recalls the knock on his door on the
morning of November 6. He says :
DON PASQUALE 53
"I opened and saw Don Pasquale with his
friend. I motioned them to enter and sit down.
Don Pasquale said: 'Mr. Comito, I present to
you my friend, Don Antonio Cecala, proprietor
of a printing shop in Philadelphia.'
" 'Are you a printer?' asked Cecala.
" 'Yes,' I answered.
" 'Well,' he continued, 'I am the proprietor of
a shop in Philadelphia and in need of a trust-
worthy man who can take care of my affairs
when I am absent looking out for my business
as an inspector of Singer Sewing Machines.
You can come to an agreement with me and
establish yourself with your wife in Philadelphia.
In that way I can be sure of your honesty,' said
Cecala to me.
" 'But,' I replied, 'I don't think that I am go-
ing to your printing shop to act as boss. You
have other men that work there?'
" 'Yes, there are other men, but they are not
capable for the trade I have because they do not
do this kind of work.'
"And saying this, Cecala showed me some
money order blanks, stamped envelopes, com-
mercial papers and some hand bills. I replied
that it was just such work that I could do,
54 THE BARREL MYSTERY
and that if the men employed by him were not
able to do such work they were not printers.
" 'Well, as you are a practical man at such
work, you may remain alone in the shop and will
assume full responsibility. Therefore, prepare
your things and tell your Mrs. not to continue
working. However, if she wants to work in
Philadelphia, then she may do so. Together
you will soon be rich.' "
Cecala agreed to pay the rent due for the
rooms occupied by Comito and his mistress, be-
sides what he owed elsewhere. The weekly sal-
ary was agreed upon, and in the event that Co-
mito should not care to remain at the job he was
to receive his return fare to New York.
The reader will appreciate the humor of this
arrangement as he gets along further in the
" 'Then you wish that the lady come with me?'
" 'Surely. The lady is necessary for you.'
" 'But don't you want me to go first and find
a house to live in?'
" 'There is no need of that. The house is
ready. It is my property.'
" 'When you say that you will provide for
everything, I am ready to leave to-morrow.'
DON PASQUALE 55
"In the evening Caterina came home from
work. I told her what had happened. She did
not care to leave her work, adding that we were
without means and could not afford to undertake
the trip. I assured her, however, that all ex-
penses would be paid, and she finally consented
to come along. We prepared the household fur-
nishings for shipment, Cecala insisting that we
take all the stuff with us."
Comito then tells of being taken to a photo-
material store. Cecala bought a camera, some
plates, bath platters, chemicals, a tripod, paper,
and a case. Comito was induced to go to the
printing house, where he had been formerly em-
ployed, and make a "dicker" for the purchase of
a printing press. The press was secured and
everything was made ready for the trip to Phil-
adelphia. Then Cecala called and introduced a
certain "Don Turi," otherwise Cina, as his god-
father. "He is a rich proprietor in Philadel-
phia," said Cecala. "Do not mind his ordinary
clothes; he is a man of gentle manners." Co-
mito's own description of the rough looking Cina
adds a streak of humor to the situation. As to
"gentle manners" Cina almost maimed Comito
when he shook hands with him. Comito was
56 THE BARREL MYSTERY
also introduced to a fellow by the name of Syl-
It was two o'clock in the afternoon on the
same day that the whole pack of them — Cecala,
Cina, Don Pasquale and Sylvester — rushed into
the little apartment of Comito, and, as he says,
"without any talking, began to label the furni-
ture." This move was made after Cecala had
paid the rent that morning.
Comito had not put any address on his stuff
because Cecala had assured him that all the fur-
niture would be put on a wagon, and that the
wagon and all would go under his name to Phil-
adelphia. Comito observed a bundle labeled:
"A. Cina, Highland, New York."
Turning to Cecala, he said: "Don't we go to
"A — ha, ha, ha — a, ha, a, ha, ha, ha, ha," leered
Cecala. "This is the place the boat stops and
then we go twenty minutes by foot. Have no
fear ; we will go by carriage."
"Do we not go by rail?"
"No," grunted Cecala. "It costs too much,
and we cannot load all your goods on the
Upon inquiring what time Cecala expected to
DON PASQUALE 57
arrive at Philadelphia, Comito was informed
about eight o'clock, and that it would be all the
better to arrive after dark because "no one will
see what we are doing, and we will give an ac-
counting to no one." Cecala also assured Co-
mito that there would be no delay once they got
off the boat, but that they would hurry to Ce-
cala's house where "we will eat and drink wine
and warm ourselves."
In this manner Comito's fears were lulled to
sleep by the promises of future prosperity that
were held out to him. There would never be
any more worry or struggle for gain as far as
Comito was concerned, according to the assur-
ances of Cecala and the others. Life would flow
along like a pleasant dream with no worries of
"It was about 4 :30 P. M. of that same day,
November 11, 1908, when I and Caterina, to-
gether with Cecala, Cina, Don Pasquale and Syl-
vester, went on board the boat," continues Co-
mito. "I was fully convinced that we were go-
ing to Philadelphia. I was quite happy think-
ing that by working honestly I would prosper.
When we were about two hours out from the
pier Cecala came to me and said:
58 THE BARREL MYSTERY
" 'Mr. Comito, we are about to make a bad
" 'Why?' I asked.
" 'Because I have not enough money to pay
the fares of all of us/
" 'Why pay for all?'
" 'Because they are my friends, and my god-
father. Then, too, you saw how they worked.'
" 'But they could have remained in New
" 'No. They will help put up the press, etc.
" 'This is just a circumstance,' explained Ce-
cala. 'I imagined that Cina had money to spare,
but he has forgotten his pocketbook. We are
short five dollars.'
"Not knowing what to do about it, I remained
silent. After a while Cecala turned to Caterina
and inquired: 'Mrs., have you any money with
" 'I have just five dollars,' Caterina replied
" 'Well, give it to me because I need it. I will
give it back to-morrow, as soon as I get to the
house,' suggested the bandit.
"Caterina stepped aside and produced a five-
DON PASQUALE 59
dollar bill from her stocking where she had hid-
den it for an emergency.
"I took Caterina aside and asked her why she
had given the money to Cecala. She said it
would be all right, that she would get it back
to-morrow. I did not talk any more. I took a
rest on a lounge, until about nine o'clock, when
I heard the boat's whistle. It was the signal of
our approaching a dock. I jumped up, thinking
I was at Philadelphia, and woke Caterina. I
was surprised when Cecala informed me that
Philadelphia was a little farther on, and that
we would get off at the next stop. Making fur-
ther inquiries as to the location of Philadelphia,
I was informed in a very brutal manner by Cina
that he did not know when the boat would arrive,
but he guessed about one o'clock. Right then
and there it dawned on me that I was not dealing
with honest people, but with a dangerous pack
who were probably trying to get me into a trap.
"When Caterina heard that we would not ar-
rive until one A. M., she spoke cross to me and
said that if any harm came to her I was respon-
sible. I consoled her as well as I could and re-
sumed my rest on the lounge.
60 THE BARREL MYSTERY
"It was about half -past twelve that night when
a long, resounding toot that echoed in the moun-
tains announced our arrival at a stopping place.
When the deck hand announced the name of the
place, which did not sound very much like Phil-
adelphia, I asked Cecala whether we should go
"He said yes.
"It was a freezing cold night. There was
snow on the ground. Caterina and I were
chilled to the bone and very nervous.
" 'We will all stop at my godfather's for the
night, and, if necessary, for a day or so until we
are rested,' announced Cecala. 'From there we
will continue our trip to Philadelphia, which is
one station beyond this place. We will do the
rest of the journey by wagon.
" 'This is Highland, 1 New York,' said Cecala,
when I inquired the name of the place.
"After a short wait in the dark near the dock
we heard a wagon rushing up at top speed. It
was driven by a man whom Cecala introduced
me to as another godfather of his who was named
Vincenzio Giglio. Cina and Giglio are brothers-
i Highland is about seven miles from Ardonia, N*ew York, where
the reader will remember I had discovered Lupo was in hiding
after he ran away from his creditors.
DON PASQUALE 61
in-law and own the place where I was to stop that
night, Cecala told me.
"We arrived at Cina's house and found a table
prepared for dinner. While Cina invited Cate-
rina and me to sit down, the wives of Cina and
Giglio brought on stuffed chickens, young goats
meat, baked potatoes, wine. The dessert was of
cheese, apples and pears, raised, Cina said, on
"My furniture was placed in a house near
that of Cina and I was left there to live with
Caterina on scanty fare and without money un-
til, as Cecala told me, the printing shop would
be in readiness. I was told to have my mail di-
rected at the box in Highland, New York, where
Cina had his mail sent. There were five little
children playing about in the Cina house. I
heard Cecala tell Cina to make out a list of food-
stuffs needed saying that he would see Ignazio
(Lupo) and have him ship it up to the farm.
"Cecala then took his departure to look after
his business as a 'Singer Sewing Machine In-
For three days after arriving at Cina's, Co-
mito says, he and Caterina ate at Cina's table.
They were waiting for the supplies to arrive
62 THE BARREL MYSTERY
from Lupo, and which Comito and Caterina
were to eat at their own table. 'Concerning this
time Comito says:
"In the three following days, Caterina and
I ate at Cina's table while we were waiting for
supplies. The conversation was about nothing
but homicides, assassinations, and robberies. At
times I thought my hair would stand on end,
but I tried my best to appear unconcerned even
when Caterina glanced at me in dismay.
"On a certain cold and rainy day, I shall never
forget, while we were all huddled around the
stove, Cina began to spin his yarns and boasted,
among other exploits, that he had been a trusted
man of the notorious bandit Varsalona. In this
way Cina had became implicated in the murder
of a school teacher in his native town, Bevona,
in the province of Girgenta, Sicily, and had been
obliged to flee the country and make his way to
America. Cina also remarked that he was mar-
ried in Tampa, Florida, where he had worked
for seven years as a cigar maker. He married
the sister of his intimate friend Giglio.
"As we were about to go to bed that night I
told Caterina that we had better plan to get
back to New York somehow. There was no
DON PASQUALE 63
longer any doubt in my mind but that we were
in the hands of confirmed criminals.
" 'How about the fare?' answered Caterina.
'I have no money at present. If you want
money ask godfather Cina.'
"I did not sleep a wink that night. I was
blaming myself for having induced Caterina to
come along. In the morning I hurried over to
talk to Cecala to make arrangements for our re-
turn to New York, but to my surprise Giglio
informed me that Cecala and Don Pasquale had
gone the night before to New York.
"I complained to Giglio of the manner in
which Cecala had left me behind with Caterina
without money or return fare to New York.
"With apparent good grace Giglio replied
that I should have a little patience and wait un-
til Cecala returned.
" 'Think of eating and drinking. Don't
worry. Enjoy yourself,' he said with a grin.
"The manner of Giglio's talk quieted me a lit-
tle and calmed my nerves ; he also said that when
it was not raining I could go about the farm to
see what was cultivated and could roam around
and forget about returning to New York.
"Caterina and I had to worry along in that
64 THE BARREL MYSTERY
godforsaken place until December 7, 1908, when
I was informed that we would be moved to the
printing shop. A wagon was coming for our
furniture at three o'clock in the morning."
THE PLANT OF THE COUNTERFEITERS
"And a truck did come about three A. M.,
December 8, 1908. Along with us came Giglio
and another man named Bernardo, a man with
a ruddy complexion and a large mouth. We
crossed through the village and after about two
and a half hours' ride arrived in front of an old,
deserted stone house situated in the woods, off
the road about twenty paces. Bernardo said
11 'Here is the printing shop. Don't you like
" 'No,' I replied.
" 'Tell that to Cecala when he comes,' said
" 'But this is no place for a printing shop,' I
continued, Caterina watching me with glaring
" 'Come, don't lose time,' roared Cina. 'Un-
66 THE BARREL MYSTERY
load the stuff before some one comes along and
we are seen.'
" 'I will go back with Caterina.'
" * Where to?' inquired Cina.
" 'To the house where I was ; then to New
" 'The house where you were is rented to a
party coming from 'New York. You cannot
stay in my house because there are too many
children there. When Cecala comes you can
speak to him.'
" 'But I don't want to stay alone here in the
" 'Have no fear. My brother-in-law and Ber-
nardo will stay with you. And then, of whom
are you afraid? No one passes on this road ex-
cept at 10 A. M., when the letter carrier goes
"By the time this conversation ended my furni-
ture was all inside the door. Cina told Giglio
to get the stove ready for it was very cold. Cina
hinted that he was going away soon. Hearing
Cina say this, I told him I wanted to return to
" 'You are crazy,' he said. 'Have you money
to pay me for returning your goods? Besides,
THE PLANT 67
I am not going to the village. I am going six
miles in the other direction to buy hay for the
horses. Cecala may be back to-morrow. Talk
to him. My brother will bring you stuff to eat.
So, why worry?'
"Later, I overheard Cina whisper to Giglio:
" 'I got close to Caterina, who was in the door-
step almost crying, and tried to comfort her., say-
ing that when we were left alone we would get
" 'Where is the fare?' Caterina is supposed to
have asked him.
"Finally Cina departed. Giglio and Bernardo
remained and began to arrange the furniture as
best they could.
"Calmed of my anger, I went into the house
and looked around. I found a large room that
served as a kitchen and a back room for a store-
room on the ground floor. Up the stairway and
on the second floor I found three small rooms
and a large room. Another flight of steps led
to a garret. In the large room on the second
floor I saw the press. It had been brought
there while I was remaining at the farmhouse
near Cina's. It was the same press I had dick-
ered for. There was a dilapidated bed in one
68 THE BARREL MYSTERY
of the three small rooms on this floor, which
Giglio had fixed up the best he could under the
circumstances. As I was looking around the
place I was convinced that I had been led into
a trap of some kind, but it never entered my
head that I had been brought up there for the
purpose of printing counterfeit money! I
thought that perhaps they wanted me for print-
ing obscene literature, such as is prohibited by
law, but on looking closer I did not discover any
type, and my mind began to get busy trying to
figure out what a press without type and acces-
sories could be intended for placed in a desolate
house in the backwoods.
"It must have been about eleven o'clock that
morning when I saw a short-set man, possibly
twenty-five or thirty years old, driving up. He
was a man of dark complexion with a large
moustache, dressed like a farmer with big shoes
and red handkerchief around his neck, wearing
a cap *A la Sicilian.' He proved to be Cina's
brother Peppino. He entered the house and
said that he was bringing the supplies. He set
down a bag of 100 pounds of potatoes, about
forty pounds of flour to make bread, a bottle of
olive oil, a case of maccaroni, olives, smoked fish,
THE PLANT 69
salt, kerosene, onions and a small form of cheese,
as well as twenty small cans containing tomato
sauce. Unloading this stuff without ever utter-
ing a word, the short-set fellow waved his hand
at Giglio and Bernardo as he started on his way.
Before leaving the house, though, he uttered the
words 'Be careful.'
"Giglio now ordered Caterina to cook, saying
that he was hungry. Caterina, realizing that
she had to deal with bad people, prepared a meal.
Four days went by and on the fifth Giglio and
Bernardo left, saying that they were going to
get something to eat as the provisions brought
by Peppino could not last much longer. We
were then living on baked potatoes and plain
"I remained alone with Caterina in that iso-
lated house for two days without seeing any one.
It was snowing. I could not go out. Those
days passed like so many years. Caterina was
taken ill with a fever. I almost despaired.
Where could I go for help ? I knew no one and
there was no house nearby. During those awful
days suicide was continually in my mind. Then
again the thought would come to me — why should
you? What for? Why abandon my wife, my
70 t THE BARREL MYSTERY
parents, my relatives? No, I reflected, better
fight it out to the end and see what those bandits
have up their sleeve.
"On the morning of December 15, 1908, it was
snowing large flakes and it was bitter cold.
There came a knock on the door. Cecala and
Cina entered. Both of them laughed boister-
ously when they saw me.
"This angered me, and I declared that I was
not to be treated any longer as if I were a child.
" 'Very well,' said Cecala. 'If you were a
child you would never do for us. We are deal-
ing with you because we know that you are a
serious and intelligent fellow, otherwise . . .
well, don't shout when you talk to us. You must
calm yourself because you are dealing with gen-
tlemen and not with villains.'
" 'I know that ; but your actions are not those
" 'When you know more then you will not talk
so much,' said Cecala in a low tone.
" Cater ina had heard voices and was coming
" 'Mr. Cecala,' she said, 'it is necessary that
I go to New York because I am ill and fever-
ish. Give me the fare and I will go.'
THE PLANT 71
" 'In this weather?' asked Cecala.
" 'Go away; I have no money.'
" 'You have no money? Give me back the five
dollars that I gave you on the boat.'
" 'I have only two dollars, which I need very
" 'You do not consider me sick?'
" 'Surely I do. So much that we have brought
a chicken to cook.'
" 'I don't cook because I am not well, and I
am cold,' promptly assured Caterina.
" 'Madame,' continued Cecala with mock cour-
tesy, 'be happy in the thought that in a month
from now we will all be rich. All these queer
ideas will pass from your mind then. Go ahead
and cook. Here is the stuff. From to-morrow
on you will not be alone. You will have com-
pany, and you will be happy.'
"Cecala now turned abruptly to me saying in
a sinister tone of voice : 'Don Antonio, come up-
stairs. I have news for you.'
"We entered the large room where the press
was standing. Cecala took a package from his
72 THE BARREL MYSTERY
coat pocket. 'Here is the work that we must
execute. We must print counterfeit money!'
His rat-like eyes froze me to the spot. 'Here
are the plates. Compare them with the original.
Without any one knowing it we will soon be
rich. The money that is to be counterfeited is
the Canadian five-dollar note. Already I have
several requests, and if we can do perfect work
we will print a million. I have brought with me
one hundred thousand sheets of paper of four
qualities and different sizes so that we could
choose the best grade from the lot. The Cana-
dian is not hard to counterfeit because there is
no silk in it like in the American money. I am
sure that we will succeed. As to buying the
inks, have no fear. In fact, I have already
bought the inks, and will consult with you in
choosing the right kind for this work. No one
will come here except our own people. It is
just as well that Caterina remain here. If a
stranger should pass and see the lady he would
imagine that there is a family living in the house
and that would not rouse suspicion. So the lady
had better stay.'
"I drew a deep breath. I saw the trap closing
around me. As calmly as I could I replied:
THE PLANT 73
" 'This is not my work. I do not even know
how to prepare the press.'
" 'Do not begin to find excuses/ barked Cecala.
'This work must be done. You will leave here
when I tell you that there is no more need of
you. Not before.'
" 'But this is very difficult work. It is out of
my line,' I ventured.
" 'No matter. If you are a printer you know
how to do it. I will assist you. Look at these
plates. See whether they are all well made.'
"I looked at the plates and said I could not
distinguish which was which. I saw five pieces
of zinc engraved on either side of which was
the 'Bank of Montreal — Canada. Five-dollar
note.' The pieces were separate, according to
the colors ; that is, two large plates for the green
side, and one black; on the face was a large 'V
printed in the center, and on the light green the
seal in a violet color. The serial numbers were
"I explained that there were several things re-
quired before any printing could be done.
"Cecala now grabbed me by the shoulders and
fairly hissed these words at me :
" 'Don Antonio, you are the person who must
74 THE BARREL MYSTERY
execute this work under my direction and the
guidance of some one else that you will know in
the future. Your life would be lost if you
should reveal our secret to any one. We are
twenty men banded together in this affair, and
we will respect you as one of us. Caterina will
be respected as well, and when we are done we
will give her a sum of money to go to Italy ; but
you must remain with our society for life. We
will provide for you and better your condition,
and that of your family, without ever revealing
to your parents the secret. If you want to write
to your brother in New York and your aunt be
careful to say that you are working for a priest
in Philadelphia telling them that the address is
a village near Philadelphia. When you wish to
come to New York I must know about it. I
will send your fare and tell you where to find
me so that I can give you the return fare. Cour-
ageous persons will help you and guard you in
case there should be some spy on the trail. No
one will come to this place, because the land
about the house is our property, and it would be
hard for detectives to discover us without some
one taking them here. This place is not sus-
THE PLANT 75
pected. The money printed here is to be
changed in Canada. No one can suppose that
it is printed in this little village. Without offer-
ing any excuses you must do this work. Know-
ing that you are a serious man I talk to you with
frankness. During the time that you remain
here you will lack nothing to eat, but you must
bear in mind that we are not big capitalists yet,
and until we make some money you must suffer
"The voice of the 'Black-Hand' Society had
spoken. I was the unwilling tool. To refuse
meant death. So I resolved to play my part
as well as I could and merely answered that I
would do what they asked but not to expect per-
fect work as I was not a practical plate printer,
and had never seen counterfeit money before nor
"Caterina now called us downstairs to eat. At
table Cina told Caterina to abandon the idea of
returning to New York. He told her that she
was to remain and cook for the people that would
come, that she would be paid for her work.
Caterina made no answer to this.
"Afterwards I went upstairs with Cina and
76 THE BARREL MYSTERY
Cecala and began to set up the press in the large
room near a window that faced the road, Cecala
remarking that there was need of light.
"Then, after a sinister pause, Cecala began to
tackle me again with a speech:
" 'Don Antonio, I also have American two-
dollar plates, but they need retouching. Some
of the lines of the black are not precise. We
will print twenty thousand dollars of the Cana-
dian money in five-dollar notes, and then fifty
thousand of these two-dollar United States
notes.' Saying this Cecala showed me the
plates, which he took from his coat pocket. He
made me examine them and I observed that they
were of check letter A, plate number 1111. He
wrapped them up in a cloth and put them in
his coat pocket, saying that he would return
them when he brought the inks. The plates for
the two-dollar bills were in three pieces; that is,
the green side, the face or black side, and the
seal and counter of dark blue.
"That night Cina and Cecala slept in the house.
In the morning they went off at a very early
hour leaving me alone and promising to return
in a few days. On the morning of December
20th, 1908, Cecala and Giglio returned in com-
THE PLANT 77
pany with another man, a Sicilian, and dressed
like one. The stranger took from a bag the
wood blocks that were needed for the plates
which Cecala had had retouched. The stranger
was presented to me as Uncle Vincent. Cecala
then told Caterina to prepare a meal as Uncle
had traveled all night and was cold and hungry.
"We went upstairs to mount the plates on the
blocks. Cecala put them in the chase, and, like
an experienced man, made the press ready for
the green side of the counterfeit money. Cecala
also prepared the green ink and then made me
print a proof to see whether the work was cor-
rect. We worked that day in making proofs be-
cause we could not get the right shade of green.
Finally, we mixed in a little yellow and hit the
right shade of green for the Canadian note. It
was necessary, however, to let the ink dry in
order to see whether the shade was exactly right.
That day the whole conversation was of getting
rich. Millions were to come to each of us.
They went so far as to figure out just what
would be the share of each at the end of the
month, selling the stuff at 35 cents on the dollar.
All were as happy as lords. All except Caterina
78 THE BARREL MYSTERY
"At about 4 P. M. Cecala took four of the
five-dollar note proofs, those which were most
like the genuine, and left for New York together
with Cina saying that he had to show them to
persons more competent. This left Giglio and
Uncle Vincent with me.
"On December 23, Cina came to the house
bringing a wagon load of coal and after unload-
ing it told me that he received a letter from New
York calling for other proofs but darker in
shade. I mixed up some more ink, and after
running off the proofs I handed them to Cina,
who took them away with him. After about
eight days I had received no notice of printing
or of the proofs when on January 2, 1909, Cecala
and Cina suddenly returned and ordered that the
work proceed. The notes were to be printed in
the last shade of ink that Cecala had prepared.
No more proofs were to be sent to New York,
Cecala said, because it was very dangerous.
One of the gang might be picked up and the
notes found on him. They told me to go by the
genuine note for shade and that when I struck
off a proof to show it to Uncle Vincent, who
was very proficient.
"They told me to hurry and to work fast.
THE PLANT 79
They needed the two-dollar notes badly because
Cecala had received an order from a Brooklyn
banker for $50,000 counterfeit money. After
they were through talking and gossiping I turned
to Cecala and said :
" 'Mr. Cecala, on the fifth instant I must go
to New York to attend a meeting of the Grand
Court of the Foresters of America, for the an-
nual installation of officers takes place on that
night. I must necessarily attend because I am
an officer and you will, of course, provide my;
" 'What do you care for the society?' sneered
Cecala. 'We are in so much need of you, and
you are finding new excuses. Leave these things
go and work.'
" 'I must attend.'
" 'Well, I will send your fare from New York.
In case I do not come back, see me at 92 East
Fourth Street, fourth floor.'
"While this conversation was taking place
Giglio and Uncle Vincent had picked out the
paper stock of which four thousand sheets were
counted out. Cecala, assisted by me, made the
press ready. Experiments were made to see if
the impression was right. After Cecala had got
80 THE BARREL MYSTERY
everything in readiness he told Uncle Vincent to
ink the press from time to time as there was no
fountain on it. I fed the press by putting the
sheets in and taking them out as they were
printed. Giglio would take the printed sheets
and spread them out in the garret to dry.
"At 2 P. M., on January 4th, 1909, the green
impressions were completed on the Canadian
notes. Not seeing any one appear with the fare
to New York I gave my watch to Giglio and
begged him to go to his brother-in-law and sell
it. Returning the next morning Giglio handed
me one dollar and a half, and said that I was
to go on the 2 P. M. train. His brother-in-law,
Cina, would come with the horse and carriage
and accompany me to the station.
"About noon Cina came. Caterina said she did
not want to be left alone with two strange men,
and asked to be taken to Cina's family until I
returned. This was agreed to and Cina left her
at his house and took me to the Poughkeepsie
station. I arrived in New York at 5 P. M. and
met Cecala at the station; he feigned surprise at
seeing me. He excused himself for not sending
me the fare and explained that he had no money.
"Cecala conducted me to Thirty-ninth Street
THE PLANT 81
and First Avenue where he introduced me to a
certain Giovanni Pecoraro, a wine merchant.
He invited me to eat some salame cheese and
fruit. We drank some wine, and then Pecoraro
told me to return to this store and get two bot-
tles of liquor, which I was to take to Highland
on my way back to the plant.
"Coming out of the store, Cecala led me to a
house in the same street near Avenue A where
there were six men in a room playing cards.
Cecala called one of them aside — a young man
about thirty, and requested him to give five
dollars to me. This young man, whom Cecala
called Salvatore, responded readily and gave me
the money as I was leaving. Cecala now ac-
companied me to the meeting room of the For-
esters of America. He told me that at 11
P. M. he would call for me and accompany me
to the station, and that I was not to stop over
night nor see any of my relatives.
"After the meeting I found Cecala and Pe-
coraro waiting outside for me. They made me
get on a car and go to Pecoraro's store, where
I was given three bottles of liquor and some
salame wrapped in one package. They accom-
panied me to Hoboken where, at 3 A. M. on
82 L THE BARREL MYSTERY
January 6, 1909, I boarded the train for High-
land. Arriving there, I found Cina's brother,
Peppino, waiting with a carriage. I got into the
vehicle and he brought me to the stone house,
that is, the counterfeiting plant. The reader will
observe that I was shadowed by the 'Black
Handers* every step of the way. It would have
been impossible for me to make a break-away
without courting death. During the month of
January, 1909, the work of counterfeiting at the
farmhouse proceeded without interruption.
From time to time Cina would show up with po-
tatoes and flour. He would examine the work,
help for an hour or so spreading the money on
the floor to dry, and then return to his farm."
THE COW THAT CAUSED A DOUBLE MURDER
"One day while we were at work on the coun-
terfeit money, Uncle Vincent told me that he had
been a cattle raiser in his home town. He was
out on a farm where he saw a yoke of oxen,
which he wanted to purchase. One of the men
who owned the oxen, while arguing about the
price, said something offensive to Uncle. With-
out saying a word Uncle aimed his rifle and shot
the man in the chest, killing him instantly. The
other man ran away. He was overtaken by a
rifle shot and knocked dead about fifty paces
away from the first man.
"With a double murder on his conscience Un-
cle Vincent cast about for a getaway. As he was
short of money he searched the first man that
he had murdered and took from him two hun-
dred and fifty lire. Returning to town Uncle
wrote a long letter to his family notifying them
84 THE BARREL MYSTERY
of what happened and took a train for Palermo.
There he contracted with a sail-boat man who
landed him at Tunis in Africa. There he found
means to get his fare and went to Tokio, Japan.
In Tokio he could not find work, was forced to
steal in order to live, and when he had accumu-
lated some money he went to Liverpool. He
lived in Liverpool about a year where he existed
by theft the same as in Japan. In March, 1902,
he left Liverpool for New Orleans. When in
America, he said, he did not lose heart because
he knew many friends, and they had to help him,
he said. And he uttered these words with the
saturnine confidence of the established 'Black
" 'How could you manage in so many different
places without knowing the language?' I in-
quired, not quite knowing the ramifications of
" 'I found Italians everywhere, and would get
directions from them until I found some friends.'
He spoke the last work significantly.
" 'Did you understand English then?'
" 'Did not even dream of it.'
" 'Have you worked while you have been in
" 'Never,' grinned Uncle Vincent. 'Neither
do I expect to work. If I knew the man who
invented work, and met him, I would kill him.'
" 'What do you do to live?'
" 'You are too young to know certain things,*
he explained with a veiled glance. 'When you
have become well interested in the affairs of our
86 THE BARREL MYSTERY
society you will know how to live without work.'
" 'Then you belong to some society which gives
you money?' I inquired, feigning stupidity.
" 'Yes, but not like your societies. When you
leave your societies and join ours you will feel
" 'And what is the price of initiation?'
* 'How will I be admitted then?'
" 'We must try you with a courageous deed re-
" 'And what is this society of yours called?' I
" 'It has no name.'
" 'Is it a mutual aid society?'
" 'Where are its headquarters?'
" 'In all parts of the world.'
" 'In Italy?'
" 'Yes, in Italy/
" 'Then it must be the Masons?'
" 'What, the Masons? Pooh-pooh! my friend.
Ours is a society that never ends and is bigger
than the Masons.'
" 'And when will you allow me to enter?'
" 'I must school you first,' he grumbled, eyeing
THE SOCIETY 87
me suspiciously. 'And when you become known
to the heads, and are respected, then we will
" 'You will christen me?' I exclaimed.
" 'How is that ? I have already been baptized
in the Roman Catholic religion, and now you
would baptize me again?'
" 'Certainly!' he grinned. 'But it is not a
matter of religion. You are christened into the
society. We give you a title that you will bear
in secret, a title that will make you obeyed and
respected in all parts of the world.'
" 'I am curious to attend a meeting of your
" 'In time you will attend; but first, I would
have to ask the superiors.'
"At this moment I was called by Caterina and
the discussion ended. I had absorbed enough to
surmise about the vast, hidden power of the
'Black-Hand' menace reaching as it does with
arms steeped in gore all around the globe."
MEETING THE ARCH-BANDIT
"At the end of January the Canadian five-
dollar notes were completed and cut the size
of the genuine. After being counted they
amounted to seventeen thousand five hundred
and forty dollars. They were put in an empty
macaroni box and was nailed up and put away
for Cecala, who was to have them exchanged
for good money to various people whom he knew.
"On February 1st, 1909, not having received
any word from New York, Giglio left and went
to Cina's house to inquire the cause of the long
silence. Next day Giglio returned, accompanied
by Cecala and Cina, and fixed the press to print
the two-dollar notes, check letter A, and plate
number 1111. Having prepared the press
Cecala and I fixed some green ink, but after sev-
eral attempts to imitate the genuine Cecala de-
MEETING THE ARCH-BANDIT 89
cided we could not do it. That night Cecala
gave me five dollars and told me that on Feb-
ruary 4 I was to go to New York. I was to
go to his house and there talk with a party who
was capable of preparing the ink. Then ad-
monishing me not to leave until Cina called for
me with a carriage, Cecala left with Cina and
"On February 4, about eight in the morning,
Cina came to the stone house with Bernardo, the
former to accompany me to the station and the
latter to remain with Uncle Vincent and Ca-
terina. I arrived in New York at noontime and
went directly to Cecala's home at No. 92 East
Fourth Street, where I found his wife who gave
me a piece of paper after making sure of my
' 'My husband is waiting at the address writ-
ten on the piece of paper,' she said. 'Ask for
him in the bank on the ground floor.'
"The piece of paper contained this address:
'630 East One Hundred and Thirty-Eighth
"Arriving at One Hundred and Thirty-Eighth
Street I found the house I was seeking and
asked for Cecala. A well-dressed man told me
90 THE BARREL MYSTERY
that Cecala would not return until two o'clock.
It was then half after one and the man told me
to return in a half hour. In the meantime I
walked over toward the L station thinking I
might meet Cecala. I returned to the address
written on the paper after walking around for
about forty minutes without seeing Cecala. I
was told to take a seat and the well-dressed man
telephoned to Cecala, who arrived in a few min-
utes and invited me upstairs with him. I went
up to a room on the second floor and there met
"Cecala introduced me to one of the men who
was tall, wrapped up in a shawl of brown color,
of oval face and high forehead. He had dark
eyes, an aquiline nose, dark hair, and dark mus-
tache. He appeared to be about forty years
old. As he was walking about the room I no-
ticed particularly that this man had one arm
outside the shawl and the other hidden beneath
the wrap. Could he be hiding a weapon? The
other man remained seated in a chair. He was
about thirty or thirty-five years old, of medium
build with dark curly hair, sallow complexion.
His nose was a little flattened, he had a brown
mustache, brown eyes, and wore a cap 'A la
MEETING THE ARCH-BANDIT 91
Sicilian.' Cecala introduced the first man as
Mr. Morello and the second as 'Michele, the
"Morello bade me make myself comfortable.
Then he gave me a piercing glance and said
" 'How is it, professor, that you cannot suc-
ceed in reaching a color like the green on the
" 'I told Mr. Cecala from the beginning that
this was not in my line of work,' I replied.
" 'How is it that a printer like you don't know
how to mix inks?'
" 'I am experienced in composing and printing
books, not in printing money.'
"'Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!' ejaculated the bandit
comprehendingly. 'So, if you do not know how
to mix the ink the bills cannot be printed?'
" 'Certainly not.'
" 'Well, we will find a man who knows how to
prepare the inks, and I advise you to do the
printing carefully so that the money can be
easily exchanged. Save the Canadian notes be-
cause they are expensive to exchange. And just
now we are without money and cannot incur ex-
02 ,THE BARREL MYSTERY
" 'I would rather leave this work and return
to New York,' I ventured.
" 'You are crazy,' yelled Cecala, who was still
present. 'Now that we are at it we must com-
plete it. If things go right, we will all be rich;
but don't think of betraying us because your life
would be lost if you did. You must never tell
any one what you are doing at the peril of losing
your life. If you get into danger because of
the secret we will save you.'
"Morello eyed me sarcastically. He shot a
menacing side-glance at me and uttered this
Warning in a low voice: 'Suppose you are ar-
rested. Well, you must never tell that you know
us, because we, remaining on the outside, can
help you at the cost of losing our property. I
advise you to be faithful to us. Remember, you
are dealing with gentlemen.'
" 'I understand that,' I said, feigning respect,
'but I am in great danger alone in the woods
with the woman, and if I am taken by surprise
I am ruined.'
" 'How? Are you alone? Where is Uncle
Vincent? Is he not there?'
" 'He alone is enough to keep any one away
MEETING THE ARCH-BANDIT 93
from the house. Soon there will be other peo-
ple to help you, and keep you company, and
bring arms and ammunition. The first stranger
that is suspected will be killed and buried in
"Morello spoke this with a saturnine air of un-
concern as if he had been discussing a smoke or
a glass of wine. To this man murder was merely
an incident to his trade.
"The arch-bandit now turned to Cecala, say-
" 'It would be well to ask Milone (Antonio
B.), and see if he is able to make the green tint.'
Milone is the man who made the plates.
" 'Who cares to go to Two Hundred and
Thirty-Ninth Street, in the Bronx, at this hour?'
replied Cecala in disgusted protest. 'It can be
" 'No. It is better that we send Nick (Syl-
vester) to-night,' said Morello with an air of
finality that booked no dispute.
" 'Do what you think, Piddu. 1 Suppose we
arrange to send Don Antonio?'
" 'Do not let him leave us, though.'
i Piddu is the Sicilian diminutive for Giuseppe, the Christian
name of Morello.
94 THE BARREL MYSTERY
" 'I know, and if he has to leave, I will accom-
pany him,' concluded Cecala almost in a whis-
"Cecala now invited me out with him, asked
me where did I want to sleep, and when I told
him at my aunt's, he offered to accompany me
"As we were about to leave the place Morello
turned to Cecala and I overheard him say:
" 'Nino, I wish you would not have the profes-
sor come here any more. You know there are
detectives following me and as soon as they see
a suspicious face they arrest him. The other
night, as you know, they arrested father and son
while they were going down the stairs.'
" 'I know it,' replied Cecala, 'but what are
your suspicions about Don Antonio?'
" 'Well — er — sometimes you can't tell.'
"The 'Black-Hand' chief dropped into a brief
reverie. Maybe he had a vague vision of the
fate that was to befall him. The other man
present, Michele, the Calabrian, had not uttered
a single word during the entire conversation.
"After we had left the house Cecala turned to
me and said with bated breath:
" 'The man you saw with one hand is Giuseppe
MEETING THE ARCH-BANDIT 95
Morello, the same who was implicated in the
"I did not reply because I did not know of
Morello; neither did I know of the barrel mur-
der. I only thought that he really had one
arm because I did not see the other. From time
to time Morello had been snuffing tobacco.
u 'l want you to know all my friends so that
you can have an idea with whom you are deal-
ing, and don't think they are poor, but all land-
lords,' now confided Cecala. 'Morello is Presi-
dent of the Corleone Society (Ignatz Florio)
and has in his power four buildings amounting
to one hundred thousand dollars. The other
man you met the last time, Pecoraro, is the pro-
prietor of a large wine deposit, and he has more
property. Giglio and Cina are owners of the
estates that you saw. I am poor because I did
not know how to profit. My profession is that
of barber. I had a splendid shop, but the busi-
ness was poor and I sold it. Two weeks after
I sold the barber shop I got in with Morello and
opened a grocery store in Mott Street. But
after two years I was forced into bankruptcy
because all the goods were sold on credit and I
was not paid. Then I opened up two gambling
96 THE BARREL MYSTERY
houses, one in Mott Street and the other in Eliza-
beth Street. I was getting along well while I
fed the police. When I did not want to give
them any more they began to go against me and
forced me to close up.'
"At the moment I could not understand why
it should have been necessary to 'feed' the po-
lice, as he said, not being acquainted with the
THE BLACK-HANDER's POLICE PROTECTION
" 'Certainly,' Cecala said. 'In America
everything is prohibited; but if you pay the po-
lice or detectives they will leave you in peace.
In this land money counts, so that if you kill any
one and have money you will get out of it. Mo-
rello knows how much money he has given to
detectives to get out free out of three or four
cases in which he was implicated. Even now
he is supposed to be watched by the police who
do not care to watch him because they know that
they will receive their bit. The government al-
ways holds him under suspicion as the head of
the Black-Handers. When anything happens
Morello is always in danger of arrest, but the
same policeman he feeds tips him off and so Mo-
rello goes into hiding. The police then feign to
raid his place, but, of course, the man wanted is
never there. Now then, my dear Don Antonio,
98 THE BARREL MYSTERY
that's the way things are done in this country.
During the last three years I am getting along
well in my line : that is, I am the head of a band
of incendiaries and earn a little money now and
"Cecala was disclosing to me a phase of the
under-world life of crime and horror of which I
knew nothing at the time.
" 'And what do you do to earn this money?
Do you take the objects that you find in the
burned houses?' I inquired.
" 'No,' sneered Cecala with contempt. 'I set
fire to the houses to defraud the insurance com-
"He said this with the pride of a professional
' 'And how do you do it?' I inquired, curious
to learn his ways.
" 'Well, you own a store and have insured it
against fire. You have paid up the insurance
and do not wish to pay any more, but you want
to realize on the money already paid in. You
will send for me to set a fire. In my manner I
will develop a fire in an instant. When the in-
surance company pays you the money you pay
me a percentage.'
POLICE PROTECTION 99
" 'Then perhaps you were the one who set the
big fire in Mulberry Street where so many poor
people were burned?'
" 'No !' came the quick response. 'I do not
set fire to make accidents happen. That fire
was engineered by a Neapolitan band that were
in accord with the proprietor of the dry goods
store underneath. They did not work it right
because they started the fire from the side of the
store and afterwards put explosives on the stairs
so that no trace would be left. If I had had
that job there would have been no trace to tell
the story, and the damage would have been done
from the store door. There would not have been
so many accidents and the families would have
had time to run into the yard.'
" 'How can you guarantee all this ? And what
explosive matter do you use to start a fire?' I
" 'Glycerine,' mumbled the bandit. 'I mix it
with other matters. It does not smell and leaves
no trace of the fire.'
" 'And do you go alone on these jobs?'
" 'No. You always need three or four men. I
direct them and they bring the material. I pay
each man five dollars a night.'
100 t THE BARREL MYSTERY
" 'And these helpers, do they make much
" 'Quite some — now and then. They risk their
hides. But it is not steady work, you know;
only on occasions.'
"The train arrived at the station and Cecala
indicated a seat separate from him so as not to
invite suspicion. At Houston Street he sig-
nalled for me to get off, and when in the street
he asked me where my aunt lived. When I told
him in Bleecker Street he said: 'I will accom-
pany you. Let us go to a drug store near by
first. I must ask something.'
"We went to Spring Street and entered a drug
store with a sign over the door spelling the name
of 'Antonio Mocito.' Cecala asked a boy in
the store where the druggist might be and the
boy replied that he was out. Cecala told the
boy to inform the druggist that he, Cecala, had
been there and to prepare 'that matter.'
" 'I put this druggist right !' boasted Cecala in
a low voice. 'He had a drug store and did a
little business. I suggested to him that he in-
sure the store against fire. After he had paid
up for a little while, I put fire to it and the com-
pany paid him three thousand dollars with which
POLICE PROTECTION 101
he put up this new store. So you see, he was
"On the way to my aunt's house Cecala made
many suggestions to me warning me that I was
to tell my aunt nothing. He told me to meet
him at his home at six o'clock the next morning.
This was at 6 P. M.
"I leave it to the reader's imagination to pic-
ture the condition of mind I was in after learn-
ing of the kind of 'gentlemen' I was obliged
to deal with. I had been caught in a trap set
by a band of incendiaries and Black-Handers
enjoying police protection. What good would
it have done me to go to the police about it?
What could anybody in my position do under the
circumstances? I thought it would be better to
keep silent and save my life until I had occasion
to denounce the gang. I was secretly awaiting
this opportunity without their knowledge.
Then, again, how could I proceed against them
without witnesses ?
"The thought that afflicted me with most con-
cern was the fate of the lady. I realized that
her consent to my desire had caused her to be
mixed up with bad people. I also realized that
if we were discovered by the police, Caterina and
102 THE BARREL MYSTERY
I would be the only ones to suffer because we
were alone and without any help from any one
"I summoned all the courage I could muster.
I always appeared to be contented with the or-
ders that were given me, and I executed them
without finding the least objection.
"I was daily afflicted by the life I was leading,
and was continually disturbed in my mind be-
cause I saw that I had not one penny, and when
I asked for money I was bluntly refused. It
also worried me to think that my family believed
I was working and making money without send-
ing any home. Time and again I planned to
run away, but how? Where would I go? I
would have to abandon all my things and be
left out in the street. And who would help me?
A penniless stranger.
"On the morning of February 5, 1909, it was
snowing and very cold when I went to the home
of Cecala at the appointed hour. He invited me
to sit down and his wife served me with coffee.
I saw his five children, quite sympathetic chil-
dren, three girls and two boys. In looking at
them I was seized by remorse to think that these
POLICE PROTECTION 103
innocent children as the offspring of a criminal
would probably be converted into criminals also
in time. Cecala told me brusquely that we
would have to leave on the ten o'clock train in
spite of the snow.
" 'When we arrive at Highland there will be
no one about the station, and we will arouse no
suspicion,' explained Cecala.
" 'Have you found the man to prepare the
ink?' I asked.
" * Yes. He is coming with us. Here is a dol-
lar. Go to your aunt and meet us at the Grand
Central Station. I am going to Don Piddu's
(Morello's) to get other inks that were bought
last night. But now that I think about it, meet
me at the Brooklyn Bridge and you will buy
some green ink, because they would not sell it to
me. Say you are a printer and refer them to the
shop where you were working.'
" 'And if they object, what shall I reply?'
" 'I will understand.'
" 'And what kind of ink is it necessary to buy?'
" 'The kind we need are marked in the cata-
" 'And who has marked them?'
104 THE BARREL MYSTERY
" C A professor who has done other work for me
and is very practical at his work. If necessary,
he will come and work together with you/
"Cecala took me to a store on Rose Street
where he employed sign language to explain the
kind of ink he wanted. A young lady asked
questions in English which I could not answer.
Cecala then interrupted and tried to act as inter-
preter. I was confused for a moment. Then I
took out a bill head with my name on it which I
had used while I acted as solicitor for work in an
Italian printing shop in Mott Street. The
young lady read it, and after about twenty min-
utes she returned, giving me three cans of ink
and the bill, which Cecala paid.
"Cecala now directed me to go to my aunt's
place before meeting him at the Grand Central
Station in time for the ten o'clock train. There
I met the man who was to assist me in printing
the counterfeit bills. The reader may now ap-
preciate the sagacity of Cecala in leaving me
after coming out of the ink store. It gave him
the advantage to meet the mysterious man who
was to help in the mixing of the inks, and it also
gave him a chance to throw anybody off the trail
if there were detectives following.
POLICE PROTECTION 105
"At the Grand Central Station we met the
man with the camera. Cecala bought three tick-
ets for Poughkeepsie. Arriving there we found
Cina waiting for us with a closed carriage. He
drove to another station and then to a ferry
where we went across the river to Highland and
from there to the clandestine factory. Supper
was waiting for us there, and we rested till the
next morning to start work. During the eve-
ning, Cecala, Cina, Uncle Vincent and the other
man played cards while Bernardo and I chopped
wood for the stove.
"On the morning of February 6, 1909, we got
the press ready. The man whose name I had not
yet been given mixed the ink. After taking
some proofs the right shade of green was devel-
oped. The unnamed man then explained to me
that by mixing black and yellow I would obtain
an olive green, and by mixing this color with the
clear green in the cans which were brought up
from New York, the right shade of green, just
like the genuine money color, would be obtained.
He explained this so that I could mix up more
in case the ink he had mixed would not be suffi-
cient to print the ten thousand sheets of the two-
dollar bills, which would make twenty thousand
106 ,THE BARREL MYSTERY
dollars in counterfeit money. Then he meas-
ured the genuine note and marked where the seal
was to be printed. He also prepared the blue
shade of ink for this impression. He advised me
to pay close attention to the black.
"We were alone in the room while he was in-
structing me, and I told him that I had little
faith in Cecala and his companions because they
did not give me any money, and made me remain
without a penny after having worked a long time.
He told me that I ought to be contented, for I
was dealing with gentlemen. In olden times, he
said, men in that line of work, when the work had
been done, would assassinate the one doing the
very work I was doing. The man was murdered,
he explained to me, so that the counterfeiters
would not be discovered and the secret revealed
to the police.
" 'Is there any danger of my being assassinated
after completing this work?' I asked.
" 'No,' he said, 'there is no danger. You are
dealing with good people.'
"After he was through with his work he
wanted to see how the printing progressed and
how many an hour were struck off. He was try-
POLICE PROTECTION 107
ing to figure whether the work could be com-
pleted in fifteen days.
"We worked at the press until about 4 P. M.,
when there were over three thousand sheets
printed on one side. This progress seemed to
satisfy the photographer and ink mixer. At
about 4 :30 P. M., Cina, Cecala and Bernardo
went away with the stranger, leaving Uncle Vin-
cent behind with me. Before leaving, Cecala
said that Giglio would come next morn-
ing to help and, if necessary, Bernardo would
return also. Cecala said that when the green
side of the printing was completed, and I saw
that a change in the ink was necessary, I was to
leave the plant and meet him in New York.
Hereupon Uncle Vincent declared that it was
necessary to have Bernardo present in order that
some one could be watching outside the stone
house and keep an eye out for strangers. Cecala
consented, and Bernardo remained with us to do
sentinel duty. Next morning Giglio came, and
he and Uncle Vincent and myself worked on
without interruption. Bernardo, armed with a
revolver and a rifle, remained on the outside, hav-
ing received orders from Uncle Vincent to fire
108 THE BARREL MYSTERY
a shot into the air in the event of strangers ap-
pearing. This was to be the signal for us.
"On February 9, 1909, the press was ready
for the seal. In the morning Cina handed me a
note from Cecala and a letter from my aunt.
Cecala's note requested me to remain in the
house and not come to New York if there was
no urgent need of it. My aunt's note informed
me that my brother was about to be operated
upon. I lost no time getting into my street
clothes. I prevailed on Cina to show me the way
to the station, where I boarded a train for New
"My first move was to see Cecala and get some
money from him, but I did not find him at his
home. Then I went to Morello's home in One
Hundred and Thirty-eighth Street. Mrs. Mo-
rello told me that her husband was not at home,
nor did she seem to know where Cecala could be
found. I hurried to my brother's house, got
there just as he was being removed in an ambu-
lance to the Italian Hospital in Houston Street.
I was without a penny and felt very miserable
to think that I could not help at this moment.
"After going with my brother to the hospital
I went to Cecala's house. He seemed much sur-
POLICE PROTECTION 109
prised that I should have come to New York
without first consulting him. However, when I
explained the circumstances, Cecala approved of
my action, but said that he had no money, only
two dollars for the return fare. He assured me,
though, that he would see to it that my brother
was put in a private ward. This would be an
easy matter, Cecala said, because he was well ac-
quainted with several of the doctors at the Italian
Hospital. He advised me to leave for the plant
as soon as possible, saying that he had many re-
quests for the counterfeit money and the custo-
mers were waiting for him to fill the orders.
"I was always obedient to the orders of the
gang, and so after going to my brother's house
and trying to console his wife by assuring her
that I had arranged to have a private room for
him at the hospital, I left for Highland on the
11 :40 P. M. train. It was very cold when I ar-
rived at the little station on the Hudson, and I
was almost frozen stiff trying to find Cina's
house in the darkness. I stopped at Cina's house
until the next morning when I was taken in his
wagon to the stone house."
A KNOCK AT THE DOOR AT 2 A. M.
"About two o'clock on the night of February
12, 1909, there was a knock at the door of the
stone house. Uncle Vincent jumped out of bed
and grabbed his rifle. Uncle was quite pale.
Bernardo and Giglio armed themselves with re-
volvers. I noticed they were trembling. I went
down to the door without a light and asked:
" 'Who is it?'
" 'We,' replied a feminine voice.
" 'Who are you?'
" 'Open the door, professor.'
"Hereupon Uncle Vincent hurried downstairs
" 'Ignazio has come.'
"Bernardo and Giglio lighted a lamp and
opened the door. A well dressed man wearing
a fur overcoat and a fur cap, a man about thirty
years old, ran toward Uncle Vincent and em-
braced him, kissing him on the cheeks.
A KNOCK AT THE DOOR 111
"Following Ignazio (Lupo), came Cecala,
Sylvester, Cina and an elderly man who had gray
hair and moustache, a man of more than fifty
years old, elegantly dressed, and wearing a gold
watch and chain and a large diamond ring.
After Cecala had introduced me to Ignazio
Lupo and the elderly man, named Uncle Salva-
tore, they requested Caterina to get up and pre-
pare a meal, as the early morning visitors were
hungry and had brought meat and wine. The
new arrivals were very courteous to Caterina,
especially Lupo, who appeared to be a man of
"Lupo talked some with Caterina and asked
her if she liked the place, to which Caterina an-
swered that it was cold in the house and that she
suffered from hunger. Lupo assured her that
he would see that we were provided for amply
hereafter, and wrote down on a piece of paper
what Caterina suggested in the way of food-
stuffs. Lupo then instructed Sylvester to take
the note down to New York to Mrs. Lupo, who
would have the goods shipped up to Highland.
We never saw the goods, though!
"While Caterina was frying about six pounds
of meat, Cecala and Cina unloaded two large
112 THE BARREL MYSTERY
grips and several bundles. Lupo opened the
valise and removed two repeating rifles, two re-
volvers and four boxes of cartridges. There
were about one thousand rounds of ammunition.
Lupo then instructed all the gang in the use of
the rifles and the revolvers, which, he said, would
shoot about fifteen shots a minute. All present
complimented Lupo on his foresight, declaring
that the weapons were just the thing. After a
little more talk about the arms every one sat
down to eat, except I and Caterina. There
were no chairs left for us. We acted as waiters,
serving the 'lords' of the gang!
"They were eating and drinking joyfully when
Uncle Vincent turned to Lupo and said:
" 'What news are you bringing, Ignazio?'
" 'You all know the news. Besides, Petrosino x
has gone to Italy.'
" 'If he went to Italy, he is as good as dead,'
said Uncle Vincent.
" 'I hope they get him,' was the pious wish of
i Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino of the Italian Detective Bureau,
attached to the New York Police Department, was murdered in
Palermo, Sicily, while on a mission for the Police Department
then under the guidance of Commissioner Theodore Bingham.
Petrosino had been an implacable foe of the Lupo-Morello gang.
His murder has never been explained to the public.
A KNOCK AT THE DOOR 113
" 'He has ruined many of us,' went on Lupo.
'It is enough to say that he had himself locked
up in the Tombs Prison to interrogate the sus-
pects and uncover crimes.'
" 'Many a mother's child he has ruined,' said
Uncle Salvatore (Palermo), 'and how many are
" 'What is more,' continued Lupo, 'I have
given Michele, the Calabrian, his fare to
to go and see his family, which was stricken by
" 'You have done well,' broke in Cecala, wink-
ing an evil eye and making a peculiar motion.
Doubtless this was a secret sign. He lifted his
glass and shouted : 'Let's drink our own health
and to hell with that Carogna!' *
"The 'table talk' now turned on other things,
such as the exploding of bombs by Sylvester,
aided by his son and the step-brother of Morello.
It appeared that they had run away after the
bomb had been hurled when they were caught
and brought before the judge, where they
pleaded innocence and so escaped the clutches of
i Carogna in the Sicilian dialect means a putrid, dead animal.
Among the Sicilian criminals the word is used to designate any-
body that brings harm to any gang of criminals.
114 THE BARREL MYSTERY
A ■ ■
the law. There was some talk of Lupo's busi-
ness failure for a matter of about $100,000; and
mention was also made of the failure of a bank
in Elizabeth Street, which was controlled by
"In spite of his business reverses Lupo was in
good humor and sang several songs for the com-
pany with the bravado of the born bandit. By
and by the lusty gang went to bed, occupying
every bed in the house. Caterina and I re-
mained awake. At daylight, Cina, Sylvester
and Giglio left. The others remained to direct
and help in the work.
"After three days of directing the work at
the stone house, and trying out the guns in the
woods together with Uncle Salvatore, Lupo and
the latter departed. Salvatore remarking that
he was going to make his home at Cina's house.
Their departure left Uncle Vincent, Giglio,
Bernardo and myself to do the work.
"About the twenty-third or the twenty-fourth
of February, I am not certain which, I gave to
Cina and Cecala the completed work on the two-
dollar notes, that is: twenty thousand and four
hundred dollars in counterfeit money. The bills
were put up in packages of one hundred and
A KNOCK AT THE DOOR [115
bundled into a dress suit case. Then they
started to plan the route for distributing the bad
money. Cecala said that he preferred to go to
Philadelphia first ; then Baltimore, where he had
many friends; from Baltimore they would cover
Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Chicago. The counter-
feit money, after being placed at each of the
centers, was to be placed in circulation on a
given day, so that the notes would appear simul-
taneously in all the cities.
"They made me take the plates off the press
and hide them under a plank in the floor to-
gether with some ink. Every piece of paper
with any printing on was burned. Before de-
parting they assured Caterina and I that they
would return in a week and give us some good
money ; also, they would then tell me whether to
continue or suspend the work.
"A very lonesome week in the dreary old stone
house followed. On the first Sunday in March,
1909, Cina's brother, Peppino, bobbed up. He
had come to take me to Cina's house where cer-
tain people from New York wanted to talk with
me. He took a boxful of the Canadian five-
dollar counterfeit bills. The visitors were to de-
termine whether the Canadian money was good
116 THE BARREL MYSTERY
enough to sell or whether it was to be burned
up, so he explained.
"Upon hearing this I had a presentiment that
the day of my being murdered had arrived.
Without saying a word to Peppino and Cina,
I called Caterina aside and told her my fears.
I showed her how to use the rifle.
" 'Caterina,' I said, 'in case I do not return
and people come to you with any excuse, no
matter what, to get you, it is a sure sign that
they have assassinated me. Then shoot whoever
comes after you, or they will murder you!'
"The poor woman began to cry, and I had
difficulty in composing her. Unnoticed by Pep-
pino I managed to steal Uncle Vincent's revol-
ver, and put it into my pocket."
THE BLACK-HANDERS IN SESSION
"Upon entering the house, which was close hy
Cina's farmhouse, I saw a table in a room on
the ground floor and around this table were
seated the following bandits: Ignazio Lupo,
Giuseppe Morello, Antonio Cecala, Uncle Sal-
vatore (Giuseppe Palermo), Uncle Vincent,
Vincenzio Giglio, Bernardo Perrone, Nicola Syl-
vester, besides a man from Brooklyn whom the
gang called Domenico and who was a baker, and
five other men whose names I did not know.
Cina was not there, being occupied with his fam-
ily, where a birth was expected momentarily.
"As I stepped in no one motioned to recog-
nize me nor was my greeting returned. Me-
chanically I took a seat. After about ten min-
utes of sinister silence and ill-boding glances,
Cina broke the strain as he came rushing in with
Peppino, his brother, both of them laughing and
shouting like madmen.
118 THE BARREL MYSTERY
" 'A boy! A boy!' they yelled.
"Cina received the congratulations of the
gang. Silence once more haunted the room.
Then Lupo turned to me abruptly and said:
" 'Don Antonio, your work is worthless. It
is a rotten job; so much so that none of it could
be sold. Cina and Cecala have risked their lives
in trying to sell it. However, they have sold
some four thousand dollars of the counterfeit
money, taking in, all in all, about one thousand
dollars in genuine money. They have expended
about two hundred dollars on their trip to differ-
ent cities distributing our product. Therefore,
there remains about eight hundred dollars, which
will be divided among the ones that have ad-
vanced the first money. If you had turned out
a good job we could have taken in more by
selling it all. As it is about seven or eight thou-
sand dollars have been made for the stove.
" 'The Canadian money is worthless and must
be burned. It cannot be put on the market.
But this is no fault of yours, in this instance.
It is the fault of the one who made the plates.
" 'Now you watch how the money is divided.
If there is any left, you get it. These men pres-
ent will not accept a penny of the remainder
BLACK-HANDERS IN SESSION 119
until those who advanced the money have been
" 'As my work did not turn out well,' I re-
plied to Lupo, 'give me only enough to return
to New York.'
" 'No,' broke in Morello, decisively. 'We
don't know yet whether you may return to New
York or whether you are to continue the work
in company with another man.'
" 'You want money?' asked Lupo. 'Who will
give it to you? I have spent two hundred dol-
lars and now will take that amount. There will
then be but six hundred dollars to be divided.'
" 'Don't do things all your own way, Ignazio,'
Morello warned in his husky voice. 'Let us de-
liberate and argue this thing out. There are
eight hundred dollars. You have spent two
hundred dollars. You get seventy-five dollars
now. I have spent fifty dollars and will take
it now, as I need it very much, as you know.
Fifty dollars we will give to Cina, twenty dol-
lars to Don Antonio, ten to Uncle Salvatore and
ten more to Uncle Vincent, five to Giglio and
five to Bernardo; what is left is needed for the
continuation of the work with the other plates.'
" 'And the man who made the plates, don't
120 THE BARREL MYSTERY
you want to give him anything?' inquired Cecala.
" 'Yes,' was the reply in chorus.
" 'Well,' turning to me, 'take these twenty
dollars,' said Morello, 'and return to the house.
Await there the decision whether you are to re-
turn to New York or not.'
"I accepted the money and tucked it into my
pocket. Then I was driven to the stone house
in a carriage accompanied by Cina's brother
"During this session with the gang some of
them got busy and started to burn up the Cana-
dian five-dollar notes, and a portion of the two-
dollar American notes. These were the notes re-
turned as worthless by the gang. While throw-
ing the notes into the stove Uncle Salvatore and
Peppino exclaimed from time to time:
" 'What a shame. They might all have been
"Once more at the stone house I explained to
Caterina what had happened. I told her that
they had given me the twenty dollars and that
I was going to go to New York and not return ;
of course she was to come along with me. But
after thinking it over we resolved that our ap-
BLACK-HANDERS IN SESSION 121
pearance was so miserable that we had better re-
main a while longer. There was also the ever-
present danger that if we ran away from this
gang we would be murdered. We abandoned
the idea, therefore, and stayed at the stone house
awaiting the orders of the gang.
"We were not kept waiting *ong. Next
morning, Salvatore Cina came to the house in a
very happy mood. He told me that I could not
return to New York because the work was to
be continued with other and better plates for
the two-dollar notes. The five-dollar notes were
to be continued, and we were to print until five
million dollars had been struck off the press.
This amount, he said, would make us all rich.
Then the work was to cease. He told me that
it had been decided to buy a horse and carriage
for the exclusive use of the stone house. I was
to go to New York and meet Cecala who would
introduce me to the man who was to direct the
work from now on. I was to tell Cina the day
I intended going to New York.
"After arranging that Giglio and Bernardo
were to remain with Caterina, while I was in
New York and Uncle Vincent went to New-
122 THE BARREL MYSTERY
burgh on business, I said that I would be ready
for my trip in two days. Then Cina left me
after he had warned me not to tell any of the
secrets of the place, explaining how hard it was
for the police to discover the plant. He declared
I must be happy in the thought of future wealth.
"On March 7, 1909, Cina returned to the stone
house with a carriage, bringing Giglio and Ber-
nardo to keep Caterina company. He drove me
to the Highland station, and I got aboard the
II A. M. train for New York. Arriving at the
Grand Central station I was met by Cecala, who
took me to a house at No. 5 Jones Street. Not
finding the party he was seeking there, he told
me to go to my aunt's house and return to the
Jones Street address at eight o'clock that even-
ing and ask for Don Peppe.
"That same evening at the appointed hour I
went to the Jones Street house and inquired in
a grocery store on the street floor for Don Peppe.
A woman indicated to me the door where I
knocked. A bald-headed man, about forty-five
years old, with a nice light brown moustache
opened the door.
"Cecala was there seated in a chair. He in-
troduced me to the man who opened the door
BLACK-HANDERS IN SESSION" 123
saying that he was Giuseppe Calichio, a litho-
graph engraver, alias Don Peppe. Cecala
turned to Calichio and said:
" 'Don Peppe, we are in need of your work.
This man (indicating me) is a printer, but he is
not capable of doing the work that we require.
You must go with him and continue this work.
It is already started and everything will go well.
When we have printed two or three million dol-
lars' worth we will stop. We are in luck.'
" 'Unless we are discovered by the police,' re-
" 'Have no such fear,' said Cecala. 'The
place where the work is done is very secure. No
one would ever suspect that such a thing is go-
" 'Listen, Cecala,' said Calichio. 'If things
happen as they did when I did work for you be-
fore, then I refuse to go. I do not care to work
and risk my life and then get nothing for it.'
" 'No, no,' said Cecala. 'You know that that
work did not turn out at all well.'
" 'I know nothing other than that you caused
me to sell my little printing shop, and I am in
terrible condition financially even now as a re-
sult of it. If you want me to do the work you
124 THE BARREL MYSTERY
speak about in company with brother Comito
here, you must give me twenty dollars a week
and board. I have a family in Italy to look
after, don't forget. As long as you pay me what
I want I am ready to work for you ; but I must
be paid in advance. The first week that you
fail to pay me in advance I will cease to work and
come home. And what is more, my dear Cecala,
I want good eating and must have wine every
day ; as you know there is not a day that goes by
without my drinking wine that I do not get a
headache. The wine gives me strength and
"Cecala's answer to this was characteristic:
" 'Don Peppe, I will do all that is possible to
get you twenty dollars a week, but I must first
talk with the others, my friends, as you know
that I am not alone in this undertaking. As to
the eating, you will have all that you want and
there will be wine. I will have a barrel of it
shipped to Highland, direct to Cina, who will see
that you get some when you want it.'
" 'Who is this Cina?' asked Calichio, suspi-
" 'He is my godfather, whom you will know
when you are in Highland,' said Cecala.
BLACK-HANDERS IN SESSION 125
" 'Perhaps he is that farmer whom I saw in
Don Piddu's (Morello's) house last year?'
" 'Precisely,' said Cecala.
"He continued : 'I will bring the first twenty
dollars to-morrow. To-morrow night you will
leave with Comito?'
" 'All right. But first, I must see the plates
and examine them to see whether they are good.
If I am to do this work, it must be done per-
fectly. You know that I do not do things by
halves. I must see whether the plates need re-
touching. I will bring my tools. If I am un-
able to use them for this work then we will buy
some before leaving the city.'
" 'Have no doubt,' continued Cecala. 'I will
come to-morrow morning and show the plates to
you, and you can take them with you.'
" 'Come to-morrow about 10 A. M. with Co-
mito, and not before ten, because I expect a per-
son on some personal business and do not want
him to see you,' counselled Calichio.
"During all this talk I did not say a word.
On my way with Cecala to my aunt's house in
Bleecker Street Cecala remarked:
" 'Don Antonio, that man Calichio is the pro-
fessor for the job. In Italy he has printed for
126 THE BARREL MYSTERY
aristocratic families, who were in hard luck. He
printed for these aristocrats about three million
dollars in fifty, one-hundred, five-hundred and
one-thousand lire notes. This money was
worked off in this country on people who were
going to Italy on trips. Don Peppe is capable
of transferring to lithographic stones the engrav-
ing on bank notes and then transfer the engrav-
ing from the lithographic stones on to zinc
plates, and in this way perfect the plates that
are necessary for our business.'
" 'Is that how our plates were made?' I in-
" 'No. Ours were made by photography and a
lot of preparations are necessary by that method.
It is enough to say that I have spent over a hun-
dred dollars up-to-date for chemicals.'
"Suddenly Cecala turned on me a whis-
pered: 'Don Antonio, what have you told your
" 'Nothing— why?'
" 'Did she ask where you are working?'
" 'No. She knows that I am working in Phila-
" 'Good! If she asks with whom you are
working in Philadelphia say that your employer
BLACK-HANDERS IN SESSION 127
is a priest, and his name is Bonaventure
" 'Very well,' I replied. 'My aunt is not in-
terested whether I am working with a priest or
with a monk. I have told her that I was em-
ployed in a printing shop, nothing else.'
" 'Good! You are an intelligent man, and
that is why I and all my friends like you Cala-
brians, because you are secretive and are never
corrupted. I knew a Calabrian who was ar-
rested with counterfeit notes on him, once, and
the policemen made him all kinds of promises
and even punched him, in their effort to learn
from him who had given him the counterfeit
money to exchange; but he never told a word.
He never squealed.'
"I made no reply; only shook Cecala's hand
and went to my aunt's.
"The next morning, I forget whether it was
the 9th or the 10th of March, I went at the given
hour to Calichio's house, where I found Cecala
examining the zinc plates for the two-dollar
American notes, of the check letter C, plate num-
"Calichio carefully examined the plates with
a magnifying glass. He explained to us that
128 THE BARREL MYSTERY
the acids that were used for washing the plates
were too strong and had destroyed some fine
lines and that it would be necessary to retouch
the plates and so raise the missing lines. He
would do it himself, Calichio said, if the proper
tools were brought to him. Cecala quickly an-
swered that the tools would be bought immedi-
ately and that we were to prepare to leave for
Highland that night. We then went to a hard-
ware store on the Bowery, and Calichio selected
some chisels and other tools, for which Cecala
paid. As soon as we were out of the store Ce-
cala gave Calichio his first twenty dollars in ad-
vance. Turning to me, Cecala said:
" 'Don Antonio, Don Peppe and I are going
to buy some chemicals. You can go away and
be at Jones Street to-night at 10 P. M. ready
to leave. Buy what you need, because you will
not return to New York until the work is com-
"I went to a store and bought a pair of shoes
for myself and a pair for Caterina. I also
bought some little delicacies of food for her.
"That night the three of us left on the 11
P. M. train for Highland. Arriving there at 2
in the morning, we were met at the station by
BLACK-HANDERS IN SESSION 129
Peppino Cina with a carriage. He told us that
we must go directly to the stone house and not
stop at Cina's farm because a strange face might
arouse suspicion among the neighbors. We did
not work that day. We took a much-needed
PEINTING THE BAD MONEY
"Calichio was up at an early hour and set
to work retouching the two-dollar American note
plates. He fixed the plates on wood blocks,
made the press ready and got the right impres-
sion, prepared the ink and struck off proofs on
several kinds of paper to see the effect of the
ink and get the correct shade. He also pre-
pared some chemicals with which to dampen the
paper and give a darker shade. Having suc-
ceeded in getting the right shade of green
Calichio explained that the color was the same
as on the genuine notes and that all they needed
now was the paper.
"Cecala then said he would leave immediately
and have the paper shipped forthwith. Turning
to me Cecala gave instructions for me to be busy
only at feeding the press. Don Peppe were to
direct the job. I to obey the latter in every de-
PRINTING THE BAD MONEY 131
tail. Cecala then took the proofs and put them
in his pocket, saying that he would show them
to Ignazio and Don Piddu (Lupo and Morello)
and mark the difference between this and the
first job, which was mine.
"Two days later Nick Sylvester came and
brought with him a suit-case full of paper which
he gave to Calichio saying:
" 'To-morrow Ignazio will come to see how
the work is going along. In the meantime you
can proceed with the work and print. I will re-
main to help you.'
"When Lupo arrived the next morning in
company with Cecala and Cina they all came up
to the work room. After examining the work
they praised Calichio, telling him that they ought
to give him a gold medal. As for me, I was de-
served of a dirty, leather medal, the bandits
"Turning to me Lupo said, 'This homely Cala-
brian doesn't even deserve to be looked at. The
work he did should have been burned on his head*
"I did not reply, but played the simpleton.
"After examining the work Lupo turned to
Uncle Vincent and said:
" 'Uncle Vic — guess what's happened?'
132 THE BARREL MYSTERY
" 'Petrosino was killed in Italy.'
" 'Honestly. The papers are talking about it.'
" 'I said it,' continued Uncle Vincent, 'that if
Petrosino went to Italy they would kill him.'
" 'Who was the hero? He deserves a medal,'
" 'And where have they killed him?' continued
" 'In Palermo/
" 'Then it means that it was well done/ said
Uncle Vincent, significantly.
" 'Certainly. The way it was done it could
never fail,' said Lupo.
" 'And ,' Cecala said. 'This was
death becoming him. How many sons of
mothers he has condemned for nothing.'
"Hearing all this I asked:
" 'Who is this Petrosino?'
" 'He was the head of the secret police in New
York,' replied Cecala. 'A homely man! Worse
than the Bubonic Plague.'
" 'I never heard of him.'
" 'You will never meet him,' said Cecala
dryly, the others grinning.
PRINTING THE BAD MONEY 133
" 'Then it was successful?' continued Uncle
" 'Certainly/ replied Lupo. 'It could not be
successful in New York because he guarded his
hide. Here he toted a revolver in his coat pocket
and was guarded by two policemen a short dis-
tance behind him.'
" 'It is a good example for the policemen,'
continued Uncle Vincent. 'No one will now
dare to go to Palermo. There they will find
only sure death.'
"Cina did not talk any because he was in-
tent on spreading the counterfeit notes out on
the garret floor. When he came downstairs to
the workroom, however, he said :
" 'As soon as we can we must celebrate for
joy; just now we will be content with a glass of
"They all went downstairs and sat at a table
conversing in low voices and I could not under-
stand what they said because the press made a
noise and interfered with my hearing.
"I and Uncle Vincent continued to work at
the press under Calichio's directions. Sylvester
would take the notes as they were printed and
spread them out on the floor in the garret to dry.
134 JHE BARREL MYSTERY
Bernardo was stationed outside armed with rifle
and revolver to guard the house and to 'spot'
any person who might pass or prowl about the
"In the afternoon of that day Lupo, Cecala,
and Cina went outside and had some sport try-
ing out their revolvers against the trees. When
they returned Lupo asked Calichio how long it
would take to print the ten thousand two-dollar
bills. About twenty days was Calichio's esti-
"Lupo then told Calichio that he would leave
the plant, but would return at the end of the
month and bring plates for five-dollar Ameri-
can notes. He addressed Calichio as 'dear Don
Peppe' and told him to be prepared for the work
and to take particular pains with the five-dollar
notes, because he intended sending some of them
" 'Have no doubts,' replied Calichio. 'I have
never done any work that was useless, and you
know it. My work has always been perfect.'
" 'Bravo, Don Peppe, we know that you are
a professor at it,' said Cecala.
"That same night about six P. M. Cecala,
Lupo, and Cina went away, leaving me with
PRINTING THE BAD MONEY 135
Calichio, Uncle Vincent, Sylvester, and Ber-
"During that month (March, 1909) we
worked without interruption printing the two-
dollar notes. About the 27th, the first twenty
thousand dollars of the counterfeit two-dollar
notes were ready and were turned over to Cina
and Sylvester, who were to bring them to New
"After this first job of Calichio's workman-
ship had been turned over, on the last Sunday
in March Lupo returned in company with Cina,
Sylvester and Giglio, who brought the plates for
the five-dollar notes and about twenty thousand
sheets of paper upon which to print the addi-
"Upon receiving the plates Calichio looked
them over attentively and said that they were
copper plates and not zinc, and that there was
need of slight retouching. He detected several
lines that were not shown in the photograph on
the face of the note. These lines needed to be
etched into the plates in the picture, which rep-
resented a farmer and an old man with a woman
and a dog.
"Lupo explained to Calichio that Cecala was
136 THE BARREL MYSTERY
on the road about New York, Brooklyn and Ho-
boken, selling the two-dollar notes, but that as
soon as he finished up this work he would re-
turn to the stone house and oversee the work
"Calichio prepared the press, fixed the inks,
and printed the first proofs for the green side of
the five-dollar notes. These were pronounced
very good by Lupo and Uncle Vincent and they
ordered that fifteen or twenty thousand of them
be printed. Whatever paper was left was to
be used for the two-dollar notes, which were very
good and easily disposed of.
"On the night of the 29th, or 30th of March,
1909, Lupo left in company with Uncle Vincent
and Cina. Before leaving, however, instructions
were given to Bernardo, Giglio and Sylvester to
count the notes printed daily so that none could
be unaccounted for and sold into circulation.
The fear that cheating might be practiced was
evidently in Lupo's mind.
"We had been working about a week on the
green side of the five-dollar notes when on April
5th, or 6th, Cina came to the stone house and
told us to suspend the work and start in on the
two-dollar notes, because there was a large de-
PRINTING THE BAD MONEY 137
mand for them from Boston, Buffalo and Chi-
cago, where customers were anxiously awaiting
a new supply. Calichio immediately got the
press ready to print another ten thousand of
the two-dollar notes.
"It was at this time that I decided not to con-
tinue the work and left the press because I was
not spoken to but ignored entirely. Even Syl-
vester and Giglio called me by an obscene name
and referred to me in the most distasteful lan-
guage, horrible to hear because of the profanity.
I told Cina I wanted him to write to Cecala and
tell him to send me sufficient money for my fare
to New York. At this Cina answered in the
'You are waiting for me to blow your brains
out. Now that we are at the point where we
can earn some money, you get sassy. Here you
are dealing with gentlemen; otherwise, by this
time you would be dead. Go ahead and work.
No more of this fussing.'
"Then turning to Sylvester and Giglio, Cina
continued: '(Piciotti) Boys, watch this Cala-
brian, and if he don't want to work, shoot him
and make a hole for him in the farm.'
"After hearing this I felt like a whipped dog
138 THE BARREL MYSTERY
and kept my mouth closed. I went over to the
press and started in to work. Calichio came
over to me and said :
" 'Don Antonio, look out. Don't act this way
with these people, because they are all of the
(Mala-vita) Mafia and will do you harm in an
instant. As long as you are among them you
must obey orders, as I do, using prudence.'
"Now it happened that for two weeks Calichio
had not received his weekly salary and he be-
came nervous for this reason. One day, when
I did not want to print on wet paper, he dressed
and went away. I, thinking that he had just
gone out, stopped working and waited for him
to return. But at night, when Sylvester, Giglio
and Bernardo saw that Calichio did not return,
they threatened me with death. Sylvester
pointed a loaded revolver at me saying that he
would dig my eyes out; Giglio, taking an axe
in his hand, said he wanted to cut my head off,
but Caterina intervened and the threatening
stopped. Sylvester left the stone house to carry
the news to New York.
"Three days went by without any work being
done, then Calichio returned in company with
Sylvester and Cina. Cina handed me a note
PRINTING THE BAD MONEY 139
from Cecala which informed me that I must obey
Calichio's order or suffer terrible consequences.
I worked on against my will under Calichio's or-
SOME "AFTER-DINNER" CONFESSIONS
"One night in the month of April (1909) I
was sitting with the bandits in the stone house
and listening to their stories. Calichio, Sylves-
ter, Giglio and Bernardo were there. Among
other exploits Calichio remarked that he had once
printed one million lire for a baronial family re-
siding at Naples in Italy. This was about fif-
teen years back, he said, when his father was
"Sylvester boasted that his first sentence was
for five years in the reformatory as a minor. He
ran away from the reformatory in company with
several other boys and got into the horse-stealing
business. He was sentenced several times for
small offenses and he once was arrested for
carrying concealed weapons.
"During his imprisonment he came to know a
certain Terranova, who was a half-brother of
Morello, and they became fast friends. They
SOME CONFESSIONS 141
stole horses in New York and sold them in other
cities at reduced prices ; or they would bring the
horses to friends in the country (Highland) and
receive payment. He told of being arrested once
when with Morello's son and brother; they had
thrown a bomb into a store in Mott Street.
They were let go because there were no witnesses
to the crime. In concluding his recitation Syl-
" 'One night I went with the Morello brothers
and other friends into a hall where a Jewish
wedding was being celebrated. As we entered
the hall we recognized two policemen who had
helped us before in our jobs. Our idea was to
steal watches. We succeeded in stealing about
fifteen watches when a Jew I was robbing got
onto me. He grabbed me by the coat and called
the police. The policeman knew me and took
my part. He pushed the Jew aside and told
him to go away. The policeman said he knew
me to be a fine young man for more than ten
years. The policeman told the Jew he was lying
and that if he said any more about the matter
he would be put under arrest. The Jew was
crest-fallen, but went on dancing all the same.
As we came outside, I gave three watches to the
142 THE BARREL MYSTERY]
policeman, two of silver and one of gold. I dis-
posed of the others in New Jersey. We divided
the proceeds equally among us/
"Then Giglio made the boast that the police
had never been able to arrest him. He had been
in great danger, though, he said. One night in
the winter of 1906 he went to Newburgh to steal
a horse and carriage. While running away with
the stolen property he was shot at twice. Neither
bullet hit him, though, he said. Two months
later the same horse and carriage were sold in
Poughkeepsie for one hundred dollars.
"Bernardo had nothing to relate except the
innocent amusement of having stolen fruit in his
native town. The others grinned.
"On April 26th or 27th the second lot of Ca-
lichio's two-dollar notes were ready. They to-
talled fifteen thousand dollars and were wrapped
up in rags. Giglio and Sylvester took them to
"Calichio and I then renewed work on the five-
dollar notes, which we figured on finishing about
the middle of May, when a communication from
New York made us stop again on the five-dollar
notes, and we started on the third lot of Cali-
chio's two-dollar notes. During the month of
SOME CONFESSIONS 143
May, I, Calichio, Sylvester, Giglio and Bernardo
all had a hand in the completion of this third lot
of two-dollar notes, which amounted to $10,000;
then, too, we finished up by the end of May
$14,700 of the five-dollar notes. During this
period Calichio received his wages punctually,
but he did not let on to me.
"When the work had been completed I called
Caterina aside and told her that I was going to
New York and would not return to the stone
house, as I did not intend to continue at that
sort of work. In fact, I dismantled the press,
piece by piece, took the genuine five-dollar note
that was used for comparison, it being the orig-
inal from which the plates were made, and said
" 'Don Vincenzio, I am going to New York to
seek rooms and will see Cecala there; I am go-
ing because, counting this last batch, I have
printed about $60,000 and have received noth-
ing for my labor.'
" 'You deserve to have your head smashed on
a rock,' was the cheerful reply. 'If the money
is not yet sold, who will you see to get paid?'
' 'Cecala is not in New York. If he were, I
1U THE BARREL MYSTERY
certainly would bring him this last batch of
money. We must wait until my brother-in-law
" 'I don't care whether it is sold or not. I
am in a miserable condition and will not remain
" 'Do as you like, but look out, though, if you
do any harm there will not be a hair left of you.'
" 'I want to go about my own business and
do not care about others.' Thereupon, I took
a suit-case with a few rags that I had left and
went on foot to the Highland Railroad station
where I changed the five-dollar bill and bought
a ticket to New York. Arriving in the city I
went directly to my aunt's, who was surprised
to see me so poorly clad and in such a miserable
condition. I told her that I had had a quarrel
with my employer because he had not paid me.
"On June 2nd, while walking about my busi-
ness, I met Cecala at Bleecker and Carmine
Streets. He laughed at me, shook my hand,
and inquired why I had not remained at the stone
house in Highland and continued the work.
" 'I could not continue,' I replied, 'because I
was treated too shabbily there by the others.
SOME CONFESSIONS 145
And why should I continue to work when no
word had come to us from New York for more
than two weeks V
" 'Well, Don Antonio,' said Cecala, 'I will fix
all your affairs so that Caterina will remain in
New York, for you and Don Peppe must con-
tinue the work. The man who made the plates
has been working on another set of Canadian
notes, not like the first that we printed, but of
the same denomination, five dollars.'
" 'Write and let Caterina come now,' I said.
'As to my doing more work for you, let's talk
about that later.'
" 'It is not necessary to write ; I will telephone.
Come with me.' From a drug store at Carmine
and Bleecker Streets Cecala telephoned to High-
land, or rather to Cina's house.
"Cina's wife said that her husband had gone
with Ignazio (Lupo) to Newburgh and that she
would tell him when he returned. Coming out
of the drug store Cecala handed me ten dollars,
" 'Take this ten dollars and find rooms for
yourself. I will provide for the rest later when
Caterina comes to-morrow or the next day.
146 THE BARREL MYSTERY
Your things will arrive in a few days.' He told
me to keep him advised. I could meet him at a
barber shop in Carmine Street, he said.
"Not seeing anything of Caterina, on June
4th I wrote a letter to Cina at Highland, and
requested him to send my things immediately
and to give Caterina the money for her fare to
"Cina received my letter and got the impres-
sion from it that I was going to tell the police,
and he went right over to the stone house to
ship my furniture.
"On the fifth of June, in the evening, Don
Peppe (Calichio) came to my aunt's house and
there told me that he had run away from the
stone house with Caterina because they had
threatened to kill him. He said that the threats
were made by Sylvester, Giglio and Bernardo.
Hearing this I hastened out on the stoop and
saw Caterina all trembling. She said: 'I don't
know how we escaped — Don Peppe and me.'
" 'Bernardo, Sylvester and Giglio wanted to
kill us; and Bernardo had already got hold of
a shovel to dig a hole.'
" 'And who gave you the money for the fare?'
SOME CONFESSIONS 147
" 'How much did he give you?'
" 'He gave ten dollars to Don Peppe in the
presence of Cina, Uncle Vincent, and the other
men, whom I do not know, and he gave me five
" 'Well,' I said, 'to-night you will sleep at my
brother's home, and do not tell him any stories
nor let him understand the circumstances of our
trouble. To-morrow I will find a house. Ce-
cala gave me ten dollars the other day.'
"I thanked Calichio for getting Caterina out
of the stone house to New York, and then went
away leaving Caterina at the home of my
EVADING THE GANG IN VAIN
"On June 6th I rented some rooms at No.
171 Thompson Street and paid for a month in
advance. I then wert to the barber shop to
find Cecala. I told him of hiring the rooms and
that I needed a deposit to have the gas turned
on. He told me th^ t he would look out for
everything in a day or so when he had the time.
He showed a receipt for my goods, which had
been shipped from Highland the day before and
which would soon arrive, he said. He gave me
five dollars with which to pay the charges on
my furniture when it would arrive. When I
asked him how I was to get food, he handed me
a card and said that I was to go to the address
and say that he sent me and that provisions
would be furnished me. On the card was D.
Milone, No. 235 East Ninety-seventh Street.
" 'Will I get what I want there?*
EVADING THE GANG IN VAIN 119
" 'Certainly,' Cecala said. 'Just mention my
name and all will be well with you there.'
"After arranging with an express company to
have my goods taken from the dock to the
Thompson Street rooms, I went to the MiJone
address and asked for Cecala.
" 'Who is this Cecala?' inquired a sJjffrt man
of ruddy complexion and stout face.
" 'Why, don't you know him?' I askf \ 'He
gave me this address where I was to t xne and
" 'Have you inquired in the bank downstairs?'
" 'Go and see.'
"I went down to the bank of one De Luca
and found a barrel containing groceries ad-
dressed to Luigi Cosentino. This I had brought
to my rooms in Thompson Street.
" 'You must pay sixty cents,' said the banker,
'right away.' And Cecala paid the money for
"Going upstairs again Cecala said in the pres-
ence of Giglio and Sylvester:
" 'Don Antcnio, we must continue the work.
Not in that place (the stone house), but in an-
other farm that has been rented by Giglio and
150 THE BARREL MYSTERY
that is very far from Highland. We will not
work any more with the same press because it is
not very good as to impression. We must buy
a new press, which Calichio is negotiating for
now, a new model.'
" 'I will not come again/ I replied, 'because I
have found work as a compositor and I am to go
to work to-morrow.'
" 'Don't begin to make trouble. You know
all our secrets now and we can't let you go.'
" 'But why don't you let Calichio continue
" 'Calichio is no good at the press. You know
of what he is capable.'
" 'I cannot go,' I repeated.
" 'Listen, Don Antonio, I promise you that
you will not work much. Print at least the other
ten-thousand sheets of paper for two-dollar notes
and the work will be completed. Then we will
suspend operations for the summer, and will be-
gin again in the Fall.'
" 'Mr. Cecala, I will return to print the paper
that is left, but you must give me, at the be-
ginning of August, $400 because I want to re-
turn to Italy; then I will come back to New
York in November. Are you satisfied?'
EVADING THE GANG IN VAIN 151
" 'Have no doubts as to that. By the first
two weeks of August I will give you $500 and
not $400, because by that time I will have sold
all the money. But will you return to America?'
" 'Yes, because I am going to Italy only to
arrange family affairs.'
"Calichio now arrived and said that he had
found the party who wanted to sell the press,
and he suggested that I go and see the man. At
this juncture Giglio interrupted to say that the
press, which we had been using, had been broken
up and thrown into the woods on the farm that
had just been rented in his name for the new
location of the plant.
" 'But,' put in Calichio, 'is that farm a place
that is at all likely to be suspected?'
" 'Certainly not,' said Giglio, 'it is far from
Highland, about three hours over the road, and
is situated on the Hudson River. It is a frame
house standing by itself so that in working there
will be no noise heard by neighbors. And there
is no road where people pass by the house.'
" 'You mean,' Cecala interrupted, 'that you
can work without fear of being disturbed?'
" 'Not even the flies will disturb us.'
" 'Good,' said Cecala, turning to me. 'Go and
152 THE BARREL MYSTERY
see this Riso (the pressman) and see if he really
wants to sell the press/
" 'Why should I go and not some one else?'
" 'You are of the trade and know whether
there are any defects.'
" 'And if he asks me who I am, what shall I
" 'Tell him you are Cosentino and have a shop
on One Hundred and Fortieth Street.'
" 'Why don't you come with me?'
" 'No,' said Cecala, 'I will wait here.'
" 'It would be better that you come along.
Two heads are better than one.'
"Cecala was persuaded and together we went
to the printing shop to look over the presses.
Riso, the pressman, said that he wanted to sell
the press because he had not enough work to
keep it occupied and was short fifty dollars to
pay off the mortgage. He explained that in
order to sell it he must first get permission from
the factory people, who held the mortgage. He
bought it about eight months previously.
"A price of $85 was agreed to.
" 'But,' queried Riso, 'what do you need the
EVADING THE GANG IN VAIN 153
" 'For a printing shop,' I replied.
" 'And have you a shop now?'
"I gave him the One Hundred and Fortieth
Street address suggested by Cecala before we
entered the printing shop.
"Riso assured me that the press was first class
and would turn out fine work.
"On June 10th, the next day, the press was
paid for and carted off in a covered wagon. I
had taken the press apart without arousing sus-
picion that it was to be taken on a long jour-
ney. The parts were taken off because of the
danger of leaving them on the press body while
in shipment. On the sides of the closed wagon
was the name of Antonio Armato, Bakery. The
man who drove it was introduced to me by Giglio
as his godfather. Giglio explained that the
press was to be carted on godfather's wagon be-
cause he had been unable to get an express wagon
at the moment.
"In order to keep up the bluff before Riso I
said to Giglio:
" 'Well, it is just as well. You know where
154 THE BARREL MYSTERY
my shop is and can have this man take the press
there. I will remain downtown and attend to
other matters while you take the press uptown/
Cecala squinted at me admiringly.
"On the 13th of June Cecala informed me that
I was to be ready to go to Highland at six o'clock
the next morning. I was to go to Cina's house
and remain there a day, he said, and then I
would be taken to the new farm. He told me
that the press had been shipped and taken to
the house by Sylvester, who had returned to New
York. Cecala also said that he had given Ca-
lichio ten dollars with which to pay the fares
and that I was to meet Don Peppe (Calichio)
at his Jones Street house early the next morn-
ing and then board the train in company with
him. Money would be forwarded to me as soon
as I reached Highland; Cecala had none with
him at the present.
" 'I hope you will not treat me as you did be-
fore,' I said. 'Promise to pay and not pay.'
"'Have no doubt. I will take in $200 to-
night from a man in Brooklyn, and will send
you ten dollars by Giglio.'
"Cecala said Giglio was in New York then
at the house of his (Giglio's) brother-in-law in
EVADING THE GANG IN VAIN 155
Jackson Street. This brother-in-law had mar-
ried one of Cina's sisters, but he knew nothing
about the counterfeiting scheme.
"At five o'clock in the morning of June 14th
I went to Calichio's house and found him pack-
ing a suit-case with inks and plates. One of
the sets I remember was the Bank of Montreal
design with a baby on the green side, marvel-
ously clear zinc plates. Calichio told me they
were to be used for making the new Canadian
" 'When are they to be printed?' I asked.
" 'When we get to the new farm/
"I told Calichio that I certainly would not
print any of them at this season and he suggested
that they probably were to be printed in Novem-
ber. He said:
" 'They will probably be printed in Novem-
ber, at the beginning of the winter season, for
now the waters are troubled. The police is mak-
ing arrests daily.'
"He placed the plates in the suit-case and to-
gether we went to Weehawken Ferry and ar-
rived in Highland at 11 A. M. There found
Peppino waiting for us at the station with a
carriage. He drove to his brother's house
156 THE BARREL MYSTERY
(Cina's). There we found Uncle Vincent and
Bernardo, the others having gone to Pough-
keepsie on business and left word that they would
return by evening. After lunch I played with
Cina's children while Calichio, Uncle Vincent,
Bernardo and Peppino locked themselves into a
room for a conference. About 8 P. M. Salva-
tor Cina returned from Poughkeepsie with Syl-
vester and immediately ordered his brother to
prepare the horse and carriage and take us to
the 'Third' farm."
"About two o'clock in the morning we ar-
rived, Calichio, Bernardo, Sylvester, Peppino
and Cina, at the 'Third' farm. Peppino re-
turned immediately from the 'Third' farm to
Cina's house. The four of us who remained
slept on straw, there being no mattresses. About
three o'clock the next afternoon Cina brought
us some mattresses, pillows and covers; some
food-stuffs and ten quarts of wine. Cina re-
marked that this was a splendid place, and that
no one could disturb us there. He gave the fol-
"Calichio and I were to remain in the house
and work. Uncle Vincent would watch along
the railroad track to see if any strangers came
near. About noontime, Uncle Vincent would
come in and do the cooking; then Bernardo,
armed with revolver and rifle, were to do his
turn and guard the farm. He was to be helped
158 THE BARREL MYSTERY
in this by Giglio and Sylvester whenever they
were about. Cina said that if Calichio or I
wanted to have our mail addressed to us we
must tell our folks and friends to send it to
20 Duane Street, Poughkeepsie, where Uncle
Turi (the well-dressed man referred to before
in this story) had opened a grocery store. Cina
assurec me that news would be brought to us
daily from the outside and that a horse and car-
riage had been brought for the express purpose
of going to and from Poughkeepsie and bring-
"Calichio made the press ready and we began
work on the fourth batch of the two-dollar
notes. There was no interruption all that day
but, on the next morning, June 17th (1909),
Calichio declared he wanted to leave for New
York because he had had a bad dream during
the night and there was news from his family.
"Bernardo accompanied Calichio to the sta-
tion and I and Uncle Vincent remained alone,
walking about the grounds in front of the house.
"About 11 A. M. Uncle Vincent was pre-
paring maccaroni for the noonday lunch when
two well-dressed men and prosperous appearing,
driving a horse and carriage, stopped in front
CAUGHT AGAIN! 159
of the house. One man was about fifty, the
other about thirty. They tied the horse to a
tree and came over to me, addressing me in
" 'Are you Italian?'
" 'Yes,' I replied.
" 'Have you rented this farm?'
" 'Who is the owner?'
" 'A man named Giglio.'
" 'Where can I see this Giglio?'
" 'In New York. His wife is sick,' replied
" 'When does he return?'
" 'We don't know.'
" 'We had come to buy this farm and would
like to look inside. Will you permit us to en-
ter and see?'
" 'No,' was Uncle Vincent's instant answer.
'We are not the proprietors and are here to guard
the fruit. Return some other day when Giglio
is here and he will give you permission.'
"The men assured us that they would get the
permission to enter the house and drove away.
When they were gone Uncle Vincent with a pale
face said to me:
160 THE BARREL MYSTERY
" 'Don Antonio, I feel sure these men are
detectives. Should they return there will be
others with them and they will arrest us. In
case we fall like mice in a trap don't say who
you know. Otherwise we are all ruined. If
they find the press we must insist that we found
it in the house, and don't know to whom it be-
longs. Let us go and burn what was printed
yesterday in order to avoid suspicion.'
" 'I am not going back,' I answered. 'I am
going through the woods to the railroad tracks
to the station and then back to New York.'
" 'If you go away I will not let any one come
near the house. And if those two men return
I will kill them.'
" 'Do as you like,' I replied. So saying I
took my hat and jumper and walked along the
railroad tracks for about an hour until I came
to the Highland station.
"I was peacefully at home in Thompson
Street on June 20th when Cecala, Cina and Syl-
vester arrived. As soon as Cecala saw me he
" 'You were very much afraid. You must
not be so frightened. The people who came to
the farm were men of a good sort and not de-
CAUGHT AGAIN! 161
tectives. But you did well in not letting them
enter the house.'
" 'Since I am away,' I replied to Cecala, 'do
not talk of continuing the work. I will not re-
turn. I don't care to fall into a trap alone,
and you all out of it.'
" 'Better if we remain out. We can help
" 'Bother the help. Leave me in peace. I
want to attend to my own affairs and be at rest.'
" 'No. Now that we have started to print we
must finish the paper that is left unprinted.'
" 'I will not return to the farm. Make Ca-
lichio continue the work.'
"'You must return and complete the work/
said Cina with arrogance.
"After about five minutes of silence Cina again
did the talking. He said:
" 'Very well, we will not return to that farm
but in order to have you content we will draw
up a contract and you will appear as Luigi
Cosentino, the proprietor of the second farm.
Then you may return and continue the work
without danger. I will telephone to-night and
have the press brought to the stone house. The
people nearby the stone house have seen you be-
162 THE BARREL MYSTERY
fore, and when I tell them that the place is now
yours they will not have any suspicion.'
" 'I want to find work here in the city. I have
worked for you for seven months and have re-
ceived only forty dollars in all for it.'
" 'Well,' said Cecala, 'but I will give you
five hundred dollars as soon as you have finished
this last job. Is that satisfactory?'
"I figured that if I got the five hundred dol-
lars I could return to Italy and not have any
more bother, and so I consented to go back and
complete the work. Cecala and Cina went with
me to a notary public in Elizabeth Street and a
contract or lease of the second farm was drawn
up. I appeared and signed as Luigi Cosentino.
The person from whom I rented the farm was
one whom I had never seen before. He was
called Salvatore Galasso. The notary gave a
copy of the paper to me and another to Galasso,
and Cecala paid the charges.
"On June 24th (1909) I and Calichio began
work anew on the second farm, at the stone house,
and continued until we had finished $13,500 more
of the two-dollar notes. When this amount was
printed, Calichio went to New York and left
CAUGHT AGAIN! 163
me with Uncle Vincent, Bernardo and Giglio
to cut to regular size the two-dollar notes and
count them and pack them in bundles of 100
each. This work was done during the month
"On the 28th or the 29th of July Cina arrived
and stopped all the work, saying that operations
were suspended for the summer. The last lot
printed, he said, was to be divided among fifteen
of us. Cecala had left about twenty days be-
fore, and as no word had been received from him
it was supposed that he had been arrested.
Turning to me Cina said:
" 'You, Don Antonio, divide up the money
for fifteen persons, and see what will come to
each. Each can sell for himself or exchange
" 'I will not take any of them, that is cer-
tain,' I replied, 'because I have no friends to
whom I can sell them. And what is more, I
will risk imprisonment.'
" 'That means that you will leave your por-
tion to me, and in time I will sell it for you,'
" 'I don't want to know whether it is left to
you or somebody else. Only, you will bear in
164- THE BARREL MYSTERY
mind that together with Cecala you have prom-
ised $500 with which I was to go to Italy when
this work was completed.'
" 'Well, if Cecala returns and brings good
money, you will be given what was promised you.
In the meantime, dismantle the press and give
me the plates, for I must save them. Put them
in a box together with the ink that was not
"Without losing any time I took some boards
and made a box and put into it the plates for
the two-dollar notes, check letter 'C,' plate num-
ber 1110; also the five-dollar copper plates, and
the second Canadian note plates, which had not
been used, and some cans of ink. I nailed a
cover over the box, and in the presence of Uncle
Vincent, Bernardo, Giglio and Cina, I gave the
box to Cina and he said:
" 'We hope to open this box in November if
things go well.'
"The first Canadian plates — those that had
been used together with the first two-dollar note
plates, Check letter 'A,' plate number 1111 — were
wrapped in some rags and buried in a hole on
the farm by Bernardo. The hole was about two
hundred feet from the house in the woods back
CAUGHT AGAIN! 165
of the house. Then all the ink that remained
outside was buried in the woods back of the
house; so were all the hundred thousand pieces
of paper of bad prints and proofs, etc., buried
there. The inks, though, were put in a macaroni
box before being put into the ground.
"I dismantled the press, taking it into four
parts, and packed it up in boards. At six o'clock
that evening Peppino Cina came with a truck,
pulled by a team of horses, and the press was
loaded onto the truck ; also the box with the plates
put on, and the whole business was covered with
hay. Then Uncle Vincent, Bernardo and
Giglio were driven off toward Cina's farm by
Peppino Cina. Cina and I took another road in
a carriage and went to his farm.
"Arriving at Cina's farm at about 11:30 that
night we sat down and ate heartily and drank
wine. Towards the end of the meal Cina gave
Peppino (his brother), Giglio and Bernardo
each $800 of the counterfeit money, saying to
" 'Boys, the work is done. From to-morrow
on each can attend to his own business. You
can take this money and exchange it yourselves.
" 'If we are going to continue, and if we need
166 THE BARREL MYSTERY
you, I will advise you, paying you double what
you can earn anywhere else.'
"Hearing this I said to Cina:
" 'See if you can't give me some money with
which I may get to New York to-morrow, with-
out my looking around for Cecala or anybody
else; and also keep it in mind that by August
15th I get the $500 so that I can go to Italy. If
the money is not given me I will endeavor to
get my passage to Italy and return in Novem-
" 'Have no doubts about the money,' said Cina.
'To-morrow I will give you five dollars. The
money that has been promised you will be yours.
In fact, I will bring it to your house as soon as
we have it ready, as we know your address in
"Next morning Cina gave me five dollars, and
drove me to the Highland station, where I
boarded the eight o'clock train for New York.
"After being in the city three days I found
employment in a printing shop in Brooklyn and
worked there as an honest man, putting away
all thoughts of evil and tried to forget what I
had been through in Highland for the past nine
CAUGHT AGAIN! 167
"On August 12, 1909, I read in an Italian
newspaper about the arrest of some persons who
passed some of the notes printed by me. Think-
ing that some one might mention my name, I
wrote a letter to Cina, addressed to No. 20 Duane
Street, Poughkeepsie, informing him that as I
had not seen any one up to the present, and had
not got what was promised me, I had decided to
leave for Italy on August 15th.
"Then I remained in Brooklyn working, with-
out the gang knowing my whereabouts. My em-
ployment for this period was in the printing shop
of Matteo Vestuto.
"One Sunday in September I met Calichio
on the street. He told me that he was going
to my house to get a suit of clothes that had
been sent down from the stone house with my
" 'Don Peppe,' said I, 'Caterina is at home
and she will give you the suit which was put
away. If you see any of the Gentlemen don't
say that you saw me, because I have written
them that I am in Italy.'
" 'I have not seen them any more,' replied
Calichio. 'Neither do I want to see them, after
what I have been through. Bear in mind, Don
168 THE BARREL MYSTERY
Antonio, that I have not yet received all the
money that is coming to me, but , if
they come again to me, I know what to tell
them .' He went off in a very angry
"On the 16th of November, 1909, I read in
an Italian newspaper of the arrest of Giuseppe
Morello, Antonio Cecala, Domenico Milone,
Luciana Maddi, Giuseppe Boscarini and Leo-
lina Vasi. They were all put under bail of
from seven to fifteen thousand dollars. Three
days later I read in the newspapers that all these
'gentlemen,' whom I knew, were released on bail,
and were at liberty awaiting trial.
"I became frightened, thinking that these fel-
lows might think that I had said something to
the police as they knew I was dissatisfied with
the treatment they had given me. Losing no
time I packed my things and went to live with
an American family in Dominick Street."
PINCHING THE GREENHORN
"I had been at this place about a month and
a half when, on the night of January 4th, 1910,
about eight o'clock, six men came into the house
and, motioning me not to move, declared that
I and Caterina were under arrest.
" 'But who are you?' I asked in Italian.
" 'We are government officers/ one of them
replied in Italian, and he showed me his shield.
" 'Well, the place is at your disposal,' I said,
sitting down on a chair and smoking my pipe,
feeling quite sure of myself.
"When they had finished searching the rooms
and us personally they brought Caterina and I
to the office of the Federal Secret Service
(United States Secret Service) and we were
taken to the head of the service, a Mr. William
J. Flynn. To him I had no courage to deny
what I had done and confessed all. I assumed
all the responsibility for Caterina, and told
170 THE BARREL' MYSTERY
everything without any thought of getting off
without punishment. Following my arrest the
Secret Service men arrested Cina, Giglio, Uncle
Salvatore, Sylvester and Lupo. On January
26th, 1910, Ignazio Lupo, Giuseppe Morello,
Antonio Cecala, Salvatore Palermo, Giuseppe
Calichio and Nick Sylvester appeared before the
Judge of the United States Court to answer the
indictment of making and passing counterfeit
"I appeared before the jury in the Federal
Court as a witness, repeating what I had con-
fessed to the Secret Service men. I did not con-
tradict myself on cross-examination when the
defense tried to show that I was a Calabrian
bandit and had come to America for the purpose
of joking with the law and justice, and that I
was telling these 'stories' and thus having eight
innocent and perfect gentlemen condemned.
"I was not disturbed at the assault made upon
my character by the ignorant Italian press, who
through libels and threats of many kinds tried
to shake my determination. I only laughed
when I read and heard of those things.
"The Black-Hand crowd should be destroyed.
The one great blow that started the downfall
PINCHING THE GREENHORN 171
of this murderous band of outlaws has been
dealt by William J. Flynn, when he sent to
prison the arch-bandits Lupo and Morello, and
the lesser evils, Cecala, Cina, Giglio, etc.
"My final word here is that my purpose in
giving testimony before the Secret Service was
not done to have eight fathers of families con-
demned, but for the purpose of removing from
among us eight Sicilian criminals who horrified
and preyed upon honest men under the leader-
ship of murderers of the worst type that are a
menace to civilization.
" ( Signed) Antonio Viola Comito."
THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR
There are characters in this story of Comito's
of whom he never got a glimpse until the case
came to trial. There are still others involved of
whom he never even heard; in fact, not a few
big fish are in the net of the Secret Service whose
names will probably never be revealed to the
public. This circumstance does not prevent me,
however, from surrounding Comito's statement
with certain additional facts that may serve to
illuminate the plan followed by Lupo and
Morello in building up their sinister organiza-
It often happens that disputes occur among
the different elements of the Italian criminals
in New York city and in other parts of this
countiy. For instance, the Neapolitan element
deals almost exclusively in the traffic of women.
Sometimes this business is invaded by a hostile
group from among the Sicilian element. In-
THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR 173
variably quarrels result and the disputes nearly
always end in a shooting or a stabbing affair.
It is well known to the Service that the quar-
rels of the Italian criminals among themselves
are settled without the help of the police when-
ever this is at all possible. When a gang mem-
ber is wounded, secrecy requires that no am-
bulance be called or a doctor summoned who
is not a friend of the gang. This precaution is
easily appreciated when one comes to think that
a call for an ambulance would require the pres-
ence of a policeman and a public report being
made of the affair. Again, should a doctor, who
is not known to the gang, be called in, he is re-
quired to make a record of the occurrence and
report any suspicious injury to the police. If
there is a death the coroner must needs be noti-
fied. To avoid entanglement and trouble with
the authorities the various gangs have impressed
in their service a physician or two who may be
relied upon to bind up the wounds and keep
the affair a secret. Many murders are in this
way covered up and escape the attention of the
police and the public.
There was a man at the trial of the counter-
feiters who was unknown to Comito. Upon this
174 THE BARREL MYSTERY;
man's testimony Morello expected to prove that
he was ill in the house during the period that
he was actually out and around and very active
in the counterfeiting scheme.
Dr. Salvatore Romano is the man. The doc-
tor perjured himself and testified to please Mo-
rello, whose vengeance he feared.
After being indicted by the Federal Grand
Jury, we were able to get a statement from Dr.
Romano. Incidentally this statement disclosed
the method whereby Morello and Lupo gathered
their first money by sending "Black-Hand" let-
ters to countrymen who were suspected of hav-
ing money, or who could in any way be coerced
into being useful to the gang.
Dr. Romano's cross-examination follows:
Q. Tell us, doctor, from the beginning, how
you happened to get mixed up; start from the
time you knew Mr. Morello.
A. I met him in this country. He was liv-
ing m East One Hundred and Seventh Street;
we were living at East One Hundred and Sixth
Street. He comes from the same town that my
grandmother and mother hail from in Sicily —
Corleone — and while I was studying in my third
year at the College of Physicians and Surgeons
THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR 175
at Columbia, my folks received a letter from a
Q. Who received it?
A. My mother.
Q. She knew Morello how long previous to
A. She had known him on the other side;
never had anything to do with him here.
Q. About when was it she got this "Black-
A. Seven years ago; I was a third-year stu-
dent in the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Q. What was the substance of the letter?
A. The substance of the letter was that un-
less a certain amount of money was paid they
would kill me. Naturally, my folks did not tell
me anything at all about it for fear that I would
get excited, neglect my studies, and so fail in
my examinations. The folks kept the thing
quiet for a few days. The "Black Handers"
also said that if anything were told to the police
authorities, the murder would take place anyway
— money or no money. You see, my father was
not here. I was a young man, my brother was
a small boy, and my family did not know what
to do at the time. My grandmother, though,
176 THE BARREL MYSTERY
knew this man Morello to be mixed up with peo-
ple of questionable character, and so she went
to him or he happened to meet her ( I don't know
which) ; anyway, she confided the thing to Mo-
rello. He said, "All right, don't get excited;
they don't kill people off all at once. Wait un-
til you get another letter. Then we will see if
we can find out the party who writes those let-
Finally, another letter was written. Then a
third, and a fourth letter came. Morello always
took the letters under the pretext of studying
the handwriting and to find out the origin of
the letter. Eventually, he found out the origin
of the letter, he said and —
Q. What was the origin?
A. Never found out. He just said that he
had found out that they were willing to settle
for $1,000, but that he would pay $100 and that
he would make sure they returned the money
to him after they found out who he was; he said
that we need not worry any more.
Q. Did you pay the $100?
A. No. Morello offered to pay the $100
himself and expected to get it back. He said:
"I will pay and see that they return it to me."
THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR 177
Q. Who would return it ?
A. Those people would return the money
again to him.
Q. He said that he would pay the money
and that he would get it back from the Black
A. Yes. Then the whole thing quieted down
and naturally my people thought they were un-
der obligations to this man Morello. And then
when the danger was over my folks told me
about it and remarked about what a terrible thing
we had escaped.
About three or four months later, Morello
came around and said to my mother:
Q. Did you hear him?
A. No. She told me.
(Continuing) "I have a notion to get mar-
ried. I'm in with a woman who has a baby as
the result of our relations. Now that I want
to get married, I want to break off this rela-
tion, and if it is not inconvenient to you I would
like to bring this baby, this little girl, to your
house until everything is arranged."
Q. That is the illegitimate child?
A. She could walk; was over one year old.
Q. Who was the woman?
178 THE BARREL MYSTERY
A. I do not know.
Q. At that time he lived on Chrystie Street?
A. No. I understand he had a restaurant.
Of course, my folks said that it was no trouble
for them. There were three or four women in
the household, and it would be no trouble for
them to take care of the little child.
Q. All the time you thought that you were
under obligations to him?
A. Yes; just for that thing.
Q. Don't you know who the woman was?
A. No ; never saw her.
Q. Sure you didn't?
Q. Do you know her?
A. No, she was a Sicilian. I don't know her
Q. Is she living?
A. I imagine she is.
Q. What was her name? What was she
A. Didn't know at all. Probably my grand-
mother would know.
Q. Was this after or before the barrel mur-
A. I think the barrel murder was after that.
THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR 179
Q. He lived on Chrystie Street at that time?
A. Yes. And so the baby was brought to
our house and we took care of it, a nice little
baby. Nothing happened at all — no disturbance.
They came around to our house about once a
week to see the baby. I kept on studying;
never bothered my head about anything at all.
I went out early in the morning and came back
late; never bothered much with the affairs of
the family. That baby died. First it got the
measles, then bronchial pneumonia. It was a
little over two years old when it died.
Q. Did Morello marry this woman?
A. The woman he married is his present wife.
He had got her from the other side. The sis-
ter (Morello's) had gone to the other side and
arranged for this marriage. So nothing hap-
pened until after I was graduated. Then these
people began to call on me as a doctor.
Q. He then lived in East One Hundred and
A. I think in East One Hundred and Sev-
enth Street, and he began to call on me; and
then the brother-in-law and then cousin, etc.,
Q. Who is his brother-in-law?
180 THE BARREL MYSTERY
A. He has three brothers-in-law, Lupo,
Lima and Salima.
Q. Which one of his brothers-in-law did you
A. I treated all three of them.
Q. Are Lima and Salima in this country
A. Yes, in New York City.
Q. And did you treat other relatives?
A. I treated all their relatives, and all free
of charge. They would call me; I would ex-
amine them, prescribe, etc., but I got no pay.
Q. Did you ever ask them for any?
Q. Why not?
A. On account of the obligations; also the
familiarity. Right from the start I thought that
I was doing a wise thing not to ask for money
for my services.
Q. What did you know about Morello about
A. My folks had told him all about those let-
ters and he had fixed it all up; we had no dis-
turbance because we were under his protection.
Q. Did you know that you were under his
THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR 181
A. I knew as well as the family did.
Q. What protection did you think that he
could give you?
A. Receiving no disturbance from the "Black
Q. Did you know that he was connected with
the "Black kanders" then?
A. I did not know that he was a "Black
Hander," but I knew from the fact that he had
arranged everything that he must have known
something about these people.
Thus I became the regular physician for these
people and never got any pay. In the mean-
time I tried to get as much hospital experience
as I could and get out of New York, because,
if a man goes out of New York to a strange
place without any experience —
Q. Why did you want to leave New York?
A. Not because I was afraid, not because
they were doing anything to me, but because I
was tired of doing work for nothing; I never
could put any money in the bank.
The whole number of relatives, babies and
patients, amounted to about sixty. It would not
be one day, but the next day, and all the time
they were on my hands. And I got no pay.
182 THE BARREL MYSTERY
My mother was in the same position. My
mother is a midwife. I tried to get hospital ex-
perience, and as soon as I was in the position
to leave New York I departed, and I have never
heard from him at all except when I received
letters from my mother who told me that they
kept on frequenting the house.
Q. What was the interview you had with
Commissioner Wood? x And when did you have
A. That was four or five years before I left
New York. The main thing he wanted to know
was whether I knew these people well enough
to tell stories. Whether I could tell him that
these people were "Black Handers"?
I had read in the newspapers that they had
i Commissioner Wood was at the time referred to here the
Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the Detective Bu-
reau of New York under Theodore Bingham. It was Wood who
sent Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino to Italy on the mission, in the
carrying out of which the Lieutenant was assassinated. In refer-
ence" to this murdering of Petrosino, who was the man who went
to Sing Sing and got information from DePriema, which led to
the identifying of the man murdered and found in the barrel, I
wish to refer the reader back to that part of Cbmito's statement
where Comito tells of his visit to Morello's house in East One
Hundred and Thirty-eighth Street, and especially to take note of
the reference there made by Comito to "Michele, the Calabrian,"
and the conversation that took place between Morello and Cecala
concerning the Calabrian. Then couple this with the reference
made again to the Calabrian by Lupo (Page 113) in paying
Michele's fare to Italy.
THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR 183
been in trouble with the law ; but they had treated
me fairly well and I said nothing against these
people. Commissioner Wood wanted to know
about these letters, and naturally I did not
Q. Did you treat Cecala?
A. No, I never treated him.
Q. Did you ever treat any of the defendants
A. No. Lupo, Morello and Palermo. Pa-
lermo was operated on for something. At the
time I was called in to give the ether.
Q. What was Morello's business after he
gave up the grocery?
A. Real estate; then they started the real
estate deal, the Ignatz Florio Association. The
way they worked that was — I don't know how
many got together, about nine or ten, and they
started in by building a house and selling it —
they said, "We will build a house and sell it and
in that way there will be a big profit and from
that profit we get dividends." They got people
to buy shares; the shares were payable, I think,
$5 down and $2 per month. So they came to
my mother and she bought one share for herself,
one in the name of my brother, and one in my
184 THE BARREL MYSTERY
name. When they got enough money they
bought a lot, built a house and sold it, and got a
dividend of 40 per cent. You could then either
take the dividend, and put the money in your
pocket, or leave it and it would go on the share.
So most of the people left their money to go to
Q. Who got the money?
A. They claimed there was a big boom in
real estate and they made another deal; they
got 35 or 30 per cent, dividend. Then they
started to build eight tenement houses, four on
One Hundred and Thirty-seventh Street and
four on One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Street,
near Cyprus Avenue.
At the time they were building, the crash came.
They took advantage of the prices and said,
"We have not enough money to keep on; the
shareholders will have to come together and pay
more money on each share."
I paid $10 extra on each share. At that time
my mother had acquired eight shares. She had
bought another for herself. Then my cousin
had bought two for herself, which she did not
want to keep, so my mother told her she would
buy them from her.
THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR 185
Q. Did Morello know anything about your
going to see Commissioner Wood; did you tell
A. Yes. I—
Q. What did you tell him?
A. I said that Commissioner Wood, when he
found out that I would not give the informa-
tion he wanted, said that I was just like the rest
of them and then told me that I might go.
Q. Did you tell Morello before you went
Q. What did Morello say when you told him
that you had been down there?
A. He said that is the way you have to do
Q. What do you know about the barrel mur-
A. Absolutely nothing at all.
Q. What do you know about Inzarillo?
A. He is considered of questionable char-
Q. Do you know the Terranova Brothers?
A. They are the stepbrothers of Morello.
Q. Do you know anything about them? Did
you treat them?
186 THE BARREL MYSTERY
A. Yes, quite a long while; they had a dis-
ease which required that they come to my house
every day, both Morello and the Terranovas.
Q. When was that?
A. That went on for about two years.
Q. What two years ?
A. The two years just preceding 1907 and
Q. Was Morello born with that deformed
A. Yes. He was so much crippled that they
called him "Little Finger."
Q. Then you did not treat Morello in 1909?
A. At the time that I stated I did see him
at No. 107 East One Hundred and Thirty-
eighth Street; also, I saw him in Rizzo's house,
and he would complain of pains ; he was always
Q. He was not sick in bed?
Q. You did not have any consultation with
A. No. I think that I may have had one
consultation with him when he was at One Hun-
dred and Thirty-eighth Street.
THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR 187
A. I think it was before the time I covered.
I think it was in December, 1908, also.
Q. That means January and February?
Q. He was not treating Morello?
A. He was the family physician in a way.
Q. What do you think of him?
A. Dr. Brancato? I want to state the fact
as honestly as if he were my brother. I think
he was a figurehead, too.
Q. Did he ever say about what he was go-
ing to testify?
A. He said we were up against a bad prop-
osition. "Let us make our testimony as light as
possible," he said. I asked him how we could
avoid a thing of that kind. They would get us
into trouble and we would have to stand for it.
Q. Who came to you and told you that you
would have to testify?
A. Nobody; but this is the way it was done:
They went to my mother and began to talk to
A. Mrs. Morello and the mother of Morello
and the brothers of Morello. So they went there
and began to explain that they had got into very
188 THE BARREL MYSTERY
serious trouble. They also said that the only;
A. That he could be possibly saved would be
to produce an alibi. I was to say that he was
not out at any time he was accused of being out.
I was to understand that he was the wrong man
mentioned in court. They explained to my
mother that the police knew that Dr. Romano
had been their physician. It would be only nat-
ural that they call me; I could then testify that
I was treating Morello at the time and he was
unable to get out when, the charges alleged, Mo-
rello was around and doing things in the coun-
They explained to my mother that there was
no other man that could be called, because no
other man would be trusted. The police knew
I was Morello's physician, they said.
And then my mother asked them not to call
me, that it would be putting me into trouble, and
that I would have to abandon the business I had
They told her that it was an absolute necessity
that I come down from Rochester and testify.
If I did not come, they said, Morello would be
THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR 189
sentenced surely. "Naturally," they said, "we
think if the doctor would come down, Morello
will be free."
So my mother wrote to me. "This is the last
proposition they are going to give you," she said.
"I think you cannot avoid coming down."
Q. She wrote and told you about it? Have
you got that letter?
A. No. Naturally I would not keep a let-
ter of that kind. I thought the matter over. I
knew the character of the men I had to deal
with. I knew that if I refused and Morello
got a big sentence they would put the whole
thing up to me. I thought of my mother down
here going out and in at night, and I had some-
thing to fear. Probably if it had been for my-
self only I would not have considered it ; I would
have looked at it differently. It seemed that I
had no alternative in a case of this kind. They
A. The brothers Terranova.
Q. What did they say?
A. Be in New York to-morrow to appear
in Court for the testimony of my brother.
Q. When was that sent to you? When did
190 THE BARREL MYSTERY
you get the telegram? Was it a day or two
before you came down?
A. Yes, but I came down at once. The first
time I came I remained here two days. Not be-
ing called, and not being able to leave my busi-
ness for such a long period, I rushed back to
Q. When did you come down again?
A. One week later at the time the detectives
Q. And you came down later? Did you go
to your mother's house?
Q. Whom did you see there?
A. Terranova, Nick Terranova.
Q. What did he say to you?
A. "I am very sorry to trouble you. I know
what you are losing. I know that you are do-
ing this for us, but it is absolutely necessary.
You are in no danger at all" — he was all the
time in the house — "there will be no danger for
you; you will be all right."
Q. Did he tell you what you had to say?
A. He said, "How many times a week do
you want to say that you saw him?" I answered
THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR 191
once a week. "I want to make my testimony
as light as possible," I told him, "so as not to
get into trouble with the Court." He said that
once a week was probably too little; "make it
twice a week," he said. And I said, if I remem-
ber rightly, I saw him twice a week.
Q. Did he tell you the time and the period?
A. He told me the period from the latter
part of December to the early part of March.
Of course I could not testify further than that.
Q. Was Dr. Brancato there?
A. I was all alone.
Terranova said to me that when his brother
(Morello) comes out of the Tombs I was to tell
him just what I was going to testify to in Court.
This in order to keep Morello from getting
mixed up in his testimony, and also for the addi-
tional purpose of keeping Morello's mind at ease
in the courtroom. Terranova told me to come
along with him, and he made me stand in the
corner there until he (Morello) came out, and
I was to say he had rheumatism.
Q. He said that ; did Terranova tell Morello
you were going to testify?
A. We had arranged that.
192 THE BARREL MYSTERY
Q. When did you first see him?
A. When they were bringing him down from
the Tombs to the courtroom.
Q. Did Terranova speak to Morello?
A. Yes. He first spoke to Morello.
Q. And he told him that you were willing
to testify for that period?
Q. Then what did you say to Morello?
A. "I am going to testify for you, that you
had rheumatism for that period, from the lat-
ter part of December to the first part of March."
Q. Up to the time you left for Rochester?
A. Yes. He said, "Don't fear; we are out;
there is no danger at all; you need not fear, and
I tell you that I was not out of the house at
all; nobody saw me and nobody will know the
difference, because I was as pale as a ghost at
Q. They did not know we had eight men
watching them at the time —
A. I came the first time, was here two days
and was not called; I hung around the Court
and finally had to go back to Rochester and look
after my business.
Q. When did you first see Dr. Brancato?
THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR 193
A. The second time I came down to New
Q. Did you know that he was going to tes-
A. Terranova told me —
Q. What did he say?
A. "He is going to testify that you were in
consultation." Terranova took me from the
courthouse here to Dr. Brancato.
Q. That is Nick Terranova?
Q. What did you do down in Brancato's of-
A. We simply agreed as to what we were
going to say; that is the time Dr. Brancato told
me "we are up against it."
Q. On the quiet?
A. On the quiet.
Q. Was Terranova there?
A. He was in the outside room.
Q. Did he tell you how you would fix it up
— he did not treat Morello?
A. No. Morello was not sick; he had no
rheumatism, but complained all the time of pains.
Q. Did Dr. Brancato tell you he had not
194 THE BARREL MYSTERY
A. We did not argue about that. It was
Q. It was understood that you had to swear
A. Because we could not do otherwise! So
they came to me principally because I was his
regular physician and they got Dr. Brancato —
Q. To come in after you went to Rochester?
A. I do not know what Dr. Brancato said.
Q. Do you know Maria Capellano; she is no
relation to you?
Q. The trained nurse who said she treated
Q. Do you know Gasparo Candido, the drug-
gist on One Hundred and Forty-ninth Street,
now at No. 23 New Bowery?
Q. Did you ever have any conversation with
A. No — the only conversation I had with her
was — "Please do that for the love of the chil-
dren; try and help my husband."
Q. Where did you have that conversation?
A. She came to my house.
THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR 195
Q. You fixed the whole thing up with the
A. With Nick.
Q. What happened after you got through
A. I rushed hack to Rochester.
Q. Have you heard from them since you
have been indicted?
A. My mother told the whole crowd that she
would have nothing to do with them; didn't care
what the consequences would be. She said:
"You have ruined my son; the last good thing
you have done for us." They said to her,
"Don't worry, everything will be all right."
She said: "I don't care how it goes; I don't
want to see you any more."
Q. Did you hear anything about the alibi
that you were going to establish for Cecala?
A. I heard something when I was in the
Q. Were you down in the lawyer's office
A. Twice. He said: "What is your testi-
mony to be?" I told him, and he said all right.
Q. The only lawyer you ever saw?
196 THE BARREL MYSTERY
Q. Terranova was the one who had all the
A. Nick, yes. He did the telegraphing.
Q. How did he sign the telegram?
Q. Did not sign Nicholas?
A. No, I don't think he did.
Q. He was down in Towns' x office?
A. He was; he never left me a minute.
Q. What conversation did you have with
A. Only that I got there before he did. I
was introduced to him here.
Q. By whom?
A. I do not recall.
Q. He is a friend of Morello's?
A. I think he was; lived downtown; they
Q. Did you not have a store up there?
A. No. I went away from New York with
Q. His name?
A. Bisconti. He went out there [Roches-
ter] for the purpose of setting up a drug store,
iMirabeau L. Towns, attorney for the gang.
L THE "BLACK-HAND" DOCTOR 197
and I to set up an office. Naturally, I would
be doing business with him. If I had any pa-
tients he would fill out the prescriptions. We
proposed to help one another. We could not
set up the drug store right away, so I rented
my office to him and kept some medicines there;
and I wrote my prescriptions and told the pa-
tients, that if they wanted they could have the
prescriptions filled out right in the house. That
thing did not work because people would pay
one dollar for the visit to me and sixty or sev-
enty cents for the medicine, and they thought
it was a scheme. I told Bisconti that as we had
come to Rochester together I would help him all
I could to set up a drug store there. This was
when we parted.
Q. How long have you known Bisconti?
A. About three months.
Q. Did any of the crowd ever give you
checks to present at the bank?
A. No. Ponticelli has a store with three or
four men working. He came to me and asked
if I could do him a favor. I had been there only
two or three months. He said that he was do-
ing much business and that as I was not doing
yery much he requested me to go and cash a
198 THE BARREL MYSTERY
check for him. It was for $300 made out by
Q. Did they ever discuss the counterfeit
operations with you in any way?
Q. The only thing you know about them is
that thev made you come down here and testify?
Q. Did they threaten your mother?
For making this statement, which shows up
the methods whereby the "Black Handers" oper-
ated and tried to escape the punishment of the
court for the offenses with which they were
charged, Dr. Romano was allowed to go free
after sentence was suspended.
Dr. Brancato, the other physician, was tried
twice, once the jury disagreeing and the second
time he was found not guilty.
I have no criticism of the action of the jury
in Dr. Brancato's case. It is simply in line with
the "fortunes of war" that the government was
unable to land Dr. Brancato.
THE "BLACK-HAND" TESTAMENT
On the person of one Rudolpho Palermo—-
one of the henchmen of the Morello-Lupo band
—we discovered a small black book closely writ-
ten in the nebulous dialect of Sicily. This man
was under arrest on the charge of dealing in
spurious money of the United States and Can-
ada. We felt sure we had in our grasp an im-
portant document. After some little coaxing
Palermo finally confessed that the ominous look-
ing little book contained the rules governing the
actions of the "Black-Hand" Society.
Palermo is now serving a second sentence of
six years in the Federal Penitentiary of Atlanta,
The following is a translation from the Sicilian
patois of the rules and articles found in the lit-
tle black book — the bible of the "Black-Hand-
First Article — Whoever confides to other com-
200 THE BARREL MYSTERY
panions, not belonging to the same society, the
operations and movements of his associates, or
offends a companion by word or deed, seriously
or in fooling, or does not respect the recruits
(who cannot be commanded for other than af-
fairs of the society), or refuses to mount guard
at his turn, or gets drunk or has a quarrel among
companions, or when being called by a compan-
ion for business of the society refuses his serv-
ice without justified motive, or leaves town for
more than one day and does not let it be known
to the society, is punishable by a fine of $20 and
cannot come back to his place. But his asso-
ciates must be all of one accord, pro and con, in
judging him guilty. In case one of the com-
panions in the society departs, he must surren-
der to those remaining the power of his vote, or
he must leave his address so that the society may
notify him of a meeting in the case of new prac-
tice, when he will go to the place at the expense
of the interested party. But if the punished
party does not give proof of amending, he will
be unfrocked — in all points remaining honored,
however — unless he commits some infamy.
Whenever the society is re-formed there must
be an opinion of the judges as to who merits
"BLACK-HAND" TESTAMENT 201
his place, and who cannot come to his place, un-
til a meeting of the same society of its own will
takes place, without any one appealing to an-
other body of the society.
Second Article — He who swears falsely on his
submission, who draws a weapon against a com-
panion without a weapon and one of the same
dimensions (always an uncovered point) or pulls
a revolver, or has a duel with any man of the
same society without the permission of his supe-
rior, is unfrocked, roundly deprived of his rights,
and he who protects him falls in disgrace without
right of appealing to another body of the society.
Third Article — The companion who knows of
an offense committed by an associate against the
society, and does not report it to the society,
falls under the same charge.
Fourth Article — He that does not come at the
precise hour of meeting the blackmailers on the
day set for duty will be punished without warn-
ing. If he gives an explanation acceptable to
the society, he will be reinstated; otherwise, he
will not participate at the next division of funds.
Fifth Article — A recruit is entitled to one-
fifth of the spoils procured by or through him
for the society.
202 THE BARREL MYSTERY
Sixth Article — The society cannot proceed in
any matter without the consent of all the com-
panions ; the opposition of a single vote is enough
to dead-lock the proceedings, provided the rea-
sons given by the dissenter are satisfactory and
convincing to the society.
Seventh Article — If a companion arrives once
the council is in session, his presence cannot alter
the agreements entered into.
Eighth Article — Every meeting called is to be
known to those on duty that day, at least twenty-
four hours beforehand, except in unusual cases.
Ninth Article — It is to the disposition exclu-
sively of the head of the society to establish the
place and day of meeting without objection.
"the vermilion flower on the big toe"
Q. Where have you acquired the S ? [The
A. Under the Cedar Plains, and passing
from the hole of the Beanstalk, I saw three lamps
lighted and one in the center that could hardly
Q. Who has formed the plan of S?
A. Fernando Misprizzi.
Q. Is he dead or alive?
A. He lives always, even after the end of
Q. Since when have you acquired the Sgarro ?
A. Since the scientific tree was planted in
Q. With what is the hole covered?
A. With a very fine carpet where the (Ca-
morrists) blackmailers play.
Q. What is enclosed in this hole?
204 L THE BARREL MYSTERY
A. The Penny of Crime denied, fought for,
Q. How do you demonstrate crime?
A. Give me a sheet of paper and you will
Q. What does the head of crime wear?
A. A silk handkerchief with five knots and
the Penny denied, fought for, and regained.
Q. How many weapons are there?
A. Thirteen. Five knives — four pairs and
one separate, five packs of cards, three of which
are for the ordinary blackmailing and two for
the blackmailing of the experienced; stiletto,
small tapper, and razor.
Q. Where have you drawn? (blood).
A. From the right thumb of the right hand.
Q. What does an experienced blackmailer
A. A star in front of him (on his forehead)
and a vermilion flower on the big toe of the left
Q. How many kinds of blackmail are there?
A. Three — ordinary blackmail that becomes
all blackmailers by turn, bold blackmail which
is "that denied, fought for, and regained," and
"THE VERMILION FLOWER" 205
high blackmail that belongs to the supreme in-
Q. What does a highly initiated blackmailer
A. A pair of small scissors, a silver needle,
pins, cotton and taffeta.
THE GENTLE ART OF WRITING "BLACK-HAND"
The reader, being now on the "inside" with
us, I hope the extracts of the "black-hand" let-
ters given here will convey some meaning.
When we had our net closely drawn about the
band of counterfeiters led by Lupo and Morello,
we raided the homes of the various members of
the gang. It fell to the lot of operative T. G.
Gallagher to be among those of our men who
entered Morello's home and placed the leader
In this case, the diaper wrapped about the
body of Morello's baby attracted the experienced
eye of operative Gallagher. The moment Gal-
lagher broke into the room where Mrs. Morello
was nursing her baby he noticed that Mrs. Mo-
rello tucked something away in the diaper of
the infant. The mother fingered the cloth rather
"BLACK-HAND" LETTERS 207
Gallagher suggested to Mrs. Morello that
there might be something of interest to the gov-
ernment wrapped in the cloth that protected the
little Morello, and instantly the mother became
very emphatic in her native manner of making
us understand that she "no understand."
Gallagher is a man of Irish extraction from
the environs of Boston. In other words, he has
the humorous instinct. So he suggested that
maybe the poor baby needed a fresh diaper!
There was a flash of volcanic fire in the mother's
eye as two strong arms held her secure while
Gallagher removed the cloth from the infant's
limbs and exposed the letters, copies of which
are here given.
The letters concern the admittance into the
society of a man who is questioned by the lead-
ers in New York, and who in turn puts the
responsibility for his admittance up to the Chi-
cago gang. Black borders adorn both the en-
velopes and the paper upon which the writer had
scribbled his tale. The first of these letters is
addressed to Mr. Rosario Dispenza, No. 147
Milton Avenue, Chicago, 111., and is from G.
La Bella Morello, No. 2069 Second Avenue,
208 THE BARREL MYSTERY;
"In answer to your letter that bears date of
the 10th, I hear what you say in it. Regarding
the Council, you have no right to be present in
the meetings. The Council is divided and sep-
arated from the Assembly. But in case that
some Councilman wishes to be present in some
meeting of the Assembly, he can come but only
to hear and then has no right to the floor, neither
right to an opinion or right to vote.
"Have I explained myself?
"This is for your guidance. Now regarding
Calogero Constantino. To tell you the truth, I
have as yet been unable to persuade myself as to
what it is about, the letters to me have not been
satisfying or convincing. There should have
been better explanations. In this manner I can-
not answer with exact judgment and clear con-
science. I cannot understand how it is that
Calogero Constantino remains arrested at Baca-
luse, Louisiana, while under the protection of so
many good friends engaged incessantly to make
him obtain his liberty, and you others of Chicago
have all this contract on your side.
"I have said it more than once that I and my
townsmen have always known the Constantino
"BLACK-HAND" LETTERS 20$
family as a good family, and none other but very
good, and the boss of my town, I am sure, can-
not give you better details, though I doubt if
they knew this family just because they were not
to our bearing, but nevertheless leaning towards
good people ; have you seen 'the ox, neither white
nor black,' this is their bearing. But not for
this I repeat, always of good people; there have
been born at times people that had given a good
account of their being, honored and respected
"We of Corleone have never had any dealings
with them, therefore could not try them and ap-.
preciate their merits. Others that have had deal-
ings, that is to say have known their good mer-
its, and have brought them to make part of our
family. Nothing extraordinary, because cer-
tainly would not have brought them in this land
if they had not known their good merits. They
have done well. We, of Corleone, will appre-
ciate said doings.
"In your letter you tell me that regarding
Calogero Constantino there is nothing to say,
but there should be exact information, because
there are eight good workers sick to put the work
on him and of the eight persons there are those
210 THE BARREL MYSTERY]
in danger of their lives. But you must excuse
me if I and others have not understood such
"If you know that Constantino is of good
health, also he is severely of good health, you
will take with other townsmen of yours the re-
sponsibility here and also of the town, and we
will do everything. Neither I nor others here
can understand how you ever in your wise think-
ing write us in this manner. If I have written
to you more than once that this Constantino
family have never been to our hearing. Known
to us only by sight in America as in the town,
and then this is not enough. You surely should
not ignore the fact Calogero Constantino has
been missing from New York at least six
"Now, then, I ask you why you write me and
others to assume the responsibility of said indi-
vidual; if this party could be admitted, then we
assume the responsibility of an individual that
had been seen 'neither born nor raised' and who
has never been known by-name or sight. This
responsibility you should ask of others, not us.
You see in this that I was right in resenting De
Vito Casiaferro and Enea, and saying that it is
"BLACK-HAND" LETTERS 211
not done that way, in making a person, by not
asking information of the townsmen before mak-
ing it, that all these discussions now would not
"Now you must ask them to assume the re-
sponsibility, those that have made him, not us.
Of us you must ask only if we have anything
to say. This, yes, is very correct. But to as-
sume responsibility is one thing, and asking if
we have anything to say is another thing. There
is a great difference. Therefore, we go in
Court, we have undersigned, upon our conscience
and on our honor declare of having nothing to
say upon the conduct and honor of Calogero
Constantino, not regarding him only but also of
his family. All of Corleone. Giuseppe La
Bella and brother, Vincenzo, brother Ciro and
"FORTUNATO Lo MONTE,
212 THE BARREL MYSTERY
This letter was, of course, written in the Sicil-
ian dialect, and was translated into the foregoing
"English," which, the reader will notice, is not
quite the "Queen's own." But the translation
was made close to the Sicilian, and we must take
it as we get it.
The reader will, of course, see that Constan-
tino's admittance to the brotherhood is in doubt.
That is, he is not being accepted into the society
except upon the responsibility of the Chicago
crowd. Whatever help is to be given him in
his trouble in Louisiana, where he is under ar-
rest, must come from the Chicago brethren.
Help will come from New York, perhaps, in the
last extreme. This seems to be the burden of
Another letter follows which may also help
the reader to a conclusion as to whether such a
thing exists as a "Black-Hand" Society. The
letter is addressed to Mr. Vincenzo Moreci, No.
535 S. Franklin Street, New Orleans, La. It
is dated New York, November 15th, 1909, and
reads as follows:
"Am in possession of your two letters, one
"BLACK-HAND" LETTERS 213
that bears date of the 5th, the other on the 10th
of November. I understand the contents.
"In regard to being able to reorganize the
family, for me I advise you all to do it because
it seems it is not just to stay without a king
nor country, but I authorize you to convey to
all my humble prayer and my weak opinion, but
well understood, that those that are worthy and
those that wish to belong, those that do not wish
to belong let them go.
"You tell me that from Palermo arrived good
news. I nor the others of New York have not
been formally advised, therefore I beg of you
tell me something about the news from Palermo.
Who has written and whether any commission
has decided to come? I have advised my god-
father La Gatutte to have in sight the one from
Morriale. I advise you further that in your last
letter I understood minutely and by wire, and
sign the affair of the friend Vincenzo Antinoro.
It is well now we are well understood. Now
for the present the most interesting thing that I
desire and expect is the declaration (statement)
of Giovanni Gulotta regarding the affair Con-
stantino and Trombone declaration made and
signed by his own hands of Giovanni Gu-
214 THE BARREL MYSTERY
lotta, and then if we are there it's a wonder.
"I hear in your letter that Sunday three
friends left to go and see him. I will await
patiently the answer and hope for favorable re-
sults. Am in doubt that one of my letters may
be lost, because, as I had to say in a previous
one to the last, I had spoken also of the agree-
ment I had made with Calogero Gulotta. In
fact, he told me in this his last that in no other
Jetter of mine had he understood what I said.
"I end this moment by sending you the most
cordial greetings of mine and my family to you
with all your family and pray you make it known
also to the friend Zito, Piro, Sunsseri, Benanti
and their families as also Vito Di Giorgi.
"They will also receive many greetings of my
brothers and brothers-in-law and my son Calidu,
my godfather Angelo La Gatutte and all the
friends of merit. Many greetings yet from all
the friends of New Orleans that you think. To
you a warm kiss. Your affectionate friend,
"(Signed) G. LA BELLA. (Morello.)' ,
FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A BADLY WRITTEN
The value of these letters to the gang, and the
peculiar information revealed in them to the
Secret Service, prompted the "Black-Hand"
crowd to get together a fund of $500, which
was offered by one of the crowd to a man now
attached to the New York Police Department.
With this money the gang intended to bribe this
man to get the letters and return them to Mrs.
Morello. Until this man, who was then a mem-
ber of the police department and a detective,
reads this, he will not suspect that I even knew
of the offer.
There were other letters containing informa-
tion of very valuable character to the Secret
Now, when the arrest was made, the news
spread through East One Hundred and Sixth
Street, where Morello was living, and some of
216 THE BARREL MYSTERY
the scouts brought the information to Nick Ter-
ranova, a half-brother of Morello. Terranova
thereupon rushed down to Milone's grocery store
at No. 235 East Ninety-seventh Street to notify
the members of the gang who might be there
that Giuseppe had been placed under arrest.
There was a surprise coming to Nick when he
discovered a number of Secret Service men in
charge of the store, and the members of the gang
taken away by the government's officers. He
tried to act an imbecile, and pretended not to
understand English when asked for a reason for
his coming into the store. He was as commu-
nicative as the proverbial oyster.
At the time when Morello was arrested he was
in bed with his son. Under the pillow of each
was found a large revolver. Neither father nor
son, it is needless to say, were given the oppor-
tunity to reach the weapons. The son has since
And now that we are on the subject of let-
ters I might relate that when the members of
the gang discovered Comito had confessed what
he knew of the counterfeiting scheme, they tried
to locate Comito, who had been hidden by me.
A BADLY WRITTEN LETTER 217
They tried a number of ruses in their efforts to
locate him for the purpose, presumably, of mur-
One of their efforts was characteristic: Se-
cret Service operative Rubano was thought by
the gang to be the man who was communicating
with Comito by mail. This was presumed by
the gang without foundation. However, it was
enough for the gang to feel, that this was the
way in which I was keeping in touch with Co-
mito. Here is what happened:
Don Gasparo had a drug store at No. 23 New
Bowery, where he also had a branch post office
and received letters there for a number of the
"Black-Hand" crowd. Some one wrote to the
postmaster of New York, on a change of address
card, and asked the postmaster to have all of
Pietro Rubano's mail sent to No. 23 New
Now you must sign your own name to' the card
asking for this change. So there was the dif-
ficulty of getting Rubano's signature to the card
without his knowing it. That was easy for the
writer. He forged Rubano's name on the sig-
nature line of the card. The gang was elated.
218 t THE barree mystery
They would now get the "Squealer" Comito's
letters to the Secret Service and locate and de-
stroy the traitor.
But, like the plans of the little field mouse of
whom Robert Burns wrote, the best laid schemes
"gang aft agley."
I asked Rubano if he had made the request
of the post office to have his mail addressed to
the New Bowery place, and the detective told
me it was news to him.
Then information came to me about Gasparo,
and I found that the druggist had good reasons
to stand in with Morello. He had formerly run
a drug store up in the Bronx in the near neigh-
borhood of Lupo and Morello's real estate ven-
ture and was a fast friend of Morello. In fact,
he and Morello were co-workers in enterprises
that do not propagate peace on earth and good
will among men.
We started to lay a trap for Gasparo. I sent
a number of letters from different parts of the
country addressed to Rubano at the Custom
House, New York, knowing that they would be
forwarded to the New Bowery address.
The letters were placed in large envelopes of
different and pronounced color and easily distin-
A BADLY WRITTEN LETTER 219
guishable to the eye when placed in the letter
"R" box in Gasparo's branch post office.
Then I set Secret Service men to watch those
who called for mail and to shadow any one call-
ing for the large colored envelopes.
This scheme of mine did not work out, though,
to any fruitful end because of the failure of any
of the gang to call for the envelopes with Ru-
bano's name on them. A number of the gang
had gone in and out of the drug store for days,
but not one took away any of the large colored
envelopes. Either they were afraid to take the
chance or some suspicious circumstance warned
them off when at the post office window. Such
things as a strange man passing and looking into
the drug store, or the appearance of a stranger
in the neighborhood, might have been sufficient
reason for the member who started for the let-
ters to refrain from asking for them at the last
moment. These Morello-Lupo members are
very suspicious, and in dealing with them this
trait must always be considered.
Another incident of the efforts of the gang to
locate Comito may be of interest at this point
when I relate that the gang offered $2,500 to
any one who would reveal to the "Black-
220 ,THE BARREL MYSTERY
Handers" the whereabouts of Comito. This
$2,500 was offered to the same member of the
New York Police Department who was also of-
fered $500 for the return of the letters, two of
which I have given a few pages back.
METHODS OF BLACKMAILING
A threatening letter is sent to a proposed
victim. Immediately after the letter is deliv-
ered by the postman Morello just "happens" to
be in the vicinity of the victim to be, and "acci-
dentally" meets the receiver of the letter.
The receiver knows of Morello's close connec-
tions with Italian malefactors, and, the thing be-
ing fresh in mind, calls Morello's attention to
Morello takes the letter and reads it. He in-
forms the receiver that victims are not killed off
without ceremony and just for the sake of
The "Black-Hand" chief himself declares he
will locate the man who sent the letter, if such
a thing is possible, the victim never suspect-
ing that the letter is Morello's own. Of course,
the letter is never returned to the proposed vic-
tim. By this cunning procedure no evidence re-
222 THE BARREL MYSTERY
mains in the hand of the receiver of the letter
should he wish to seek aid from the police.
Also, Morello is in this way put in close touch
with the mental attitude of the receiver of the let-
ter, and he is in a position to tell whether the
receiver will go to the police or not.
Morello thus can tell whether to proceed with
further threats; he can also tell what manner of
threat is most likely to persuade the receiver of
the letter to part with his money.
The threat may be the stealing of his little
child or the blowing up of his store or the hor-
rible invitation to expect swift and sudden death
from a knife thrust in the dark.
Morello was practically the first man to make
this manner of blackmail a commercial success
in this country.
Here are a few samples of letters taken by the
Secret Service men from Morello's house when
he was arrested on the charges upon which he
was convicted of counterfeiting United States
money. It was for these letters also that the
offer of $500 was made in part.
The letter which follows had been sent through
the mail to Liborio Bataglia, at No. 13 Prince
Street, New York City. Morello had got the
METHODS OF BLACKMAILING 223
letter back in the usual way that I have just
explained. It reads in the English translation
from the Sicilian as follows:
"Do not think that we are dead. Look out
for your face; a veil won't help you. Now is
the occasion to give me five hundred dollars on
account of that which you others don't know
respect that from then to now you should have
kissed my forehead I have been in your store,
friend Donate how you respect him he is an
ignorant boob, that I bring you others I hope
that all will end that when we are alone they
give me no peace as I deserve time lost that
brings you will know us neither some other of
the Mafia in the future will write in the bank
where you must send the money without so many
stories otherwise you will pay for it."
Here is another letter that had been sent
through the mails and obtained by Morello in
the usual manner. It bears a Brooklyn post-
mark and is dated September 21, 1908. It was
addressed to Rosario Oliveri, 27 Stanton Street.
It reads in the translation from the Sicilian :
224 THE BARREL MYSTERY
"Dear Friend :
"Beware we are sick and tired of writing to
you to the appointment you have not come with
people of honor. If this time you don't do what
we say it will be your ruination. Send us three
hundred dollars with people of honor at eleven
o'clock Thursday night. There will be a friend
at the corner of 15th Street and Hamilton Ave.
He will ask you for the signal. Give me the
word and you will give him the money. Beware
that if you don't come to this order we will ruin
all your merchandise and attempt your lif e. Be-
ware of what you do. M. N."
Here is a polite invitation to a proposed vic-
tim that he very kindly dispense with his money.
"The need obliges us to come to you in order
to do us a favor. We request, Sunday night,
7th day, at 12 o'clock you must bring the sum
of $1000. Under penalty of death for you and
your dears you must come under the new bridge
near the Grand Street ferry where you will find
the person that wants to know the time. At this
METHODS OF BLACKMAILING 225
word you will give him the money. Beware of
what you do and keep your mouth shut. . . ."
I summoned a great many of the people to
whom these letters were sent and asked them to
tell who they met and how much money they
gave to the "Black-Handers." But invariably
these people, some of whom I knew were vic-
tims, would deny that they had met any person
in answer to the letter, and they would also deny
that they ever thought of giving any money to
appease the wrath of the "Black-Hand" Society.
TRACING A LETTER
While I was hot on the trail of the counter-
feiting gang led by Lupo and Morello, a letter
came to my hand which contained a counterfeit
five-dollar note. The letter was addressed to
Andrea Pollara, Portage La Prairie, Manitoba,
Canada. The letter was written in Italian and
translated was as follows:
"I enclose a sample of those for $5 and beg
you buy five cents of Griciria (the "black-hand"
word for glycerine) which if rubbed on certain
counterfeit bills will give them the appearance
of age, and so make them the more easy to pass,
and rub it on your hands, and then you will do
whatever you want. If you see they will go
well, notify me at once and I will send you as
many as you want."
TRACING A LETTER 227
The note was signed I. P. It was a regis-
tered letter and sealed with black wax by a stamp
seal bearing the name of F. Acritelli, No. 243
Elizabeth Street. The return address on this
letter was Giuseppe Conti, No. 8 Prince Street,
New York City. The letter also showed that it
had been mailed at Sub-Station No. 78, which
is in the Italian bank conducted by Pasquale
Pati, at No. 240 Elizabeth Street, just across
the street from where the letter had been sealed
at Acritelli's banking place. This Acritelli, by
the way, is the father of the former Coroner
The initials on the signature of the letter, I
guessed were those of Pietro Inzarillo. This
man conducted a little Italian cafe at No. 226
Elizabeth Street, in the same block where Acri-
telli's bank was, and also in the same block where
the sub-post office station was located where the
letter had been registered. Also, I knew that
this Inzarillo was just around the corner from
the grocery store of Lupo, at No. 8 Prince
Street; and in the back of Lupo's cafe, Morello
conducted his Italian restaurant.
I examined the five-dollar counterfeit bill and
228 THE BARREL MYSTERY
saw that it was the work of the Lupo-Morello
Then, too, the return address, No. 8 Prince
Street, was where Morello and Lupo were doing
business. The problem was how to connect these
two fellows with the writing of the letter. It
had been rejected when brought back there by
the letter carrier.
I hit upon the plan of finding out whether the
handwriting was that of Lupo, which I had rea-
son to believe it was. I remembered that several
of the Lupo-Morello gang were in the Tombs
awaiting trial for counterfeiting. I knew that
many of their friends applied to United States
Marshal Henkel for passes to visit the members
of the gang locked up. Two of these were Isa-
dore Crocervera and Giuseppe DePriema. The
latter, by the way, was the brother-in-law of the
man found murdered in the barrel.
I went to Marshal Henkel and told him what
I was after, and made arrangements with him
to get the handwriting of all those who called
and asked for passes to see the two Morello-
Lupo counterfeiters. So whenever the visiting
members called at the marshal's office and asked
for passes the marshal pretended that he did not
TRACING A LETTER 229
understand and had the visitors write out what
they wished and required them to sign the re-
quest for passes. In this way I obtained the
signature and handwriting of a number of the
gang, but failed in the main purpose, namely,
that of obtaining a sample of Lupo's handwrit-
ing or his signature.
Despite the fact that I was satisfied that the
workmanship of the bill was that of the Lupo-
Morello crowd, and though I was cod ident that
Lupo wrote the letter, yet when the letter was
returned to No. 8 Prince Street nobody there
would accept it for Giuseppe Conti, the informa-
tion to the letter carrier being that no such per-
son lived there or was known there. When you
know the ways of the Sicilian criminal this occur-
rence alone is good grounds for believing that a
great deal more was known about Giuseppe
Conti at the Prince Street address than was
given to the letter carrier.
I hit upon another plan. I knew that Lupo
was importing into this country a large quan-
tity of olive oil, which had to pass the govern-
ment officials. Accordingly, I went to see John
Hughes, brother of former Inspector of Police
Edward Hughes, who was at one time in charge
230 THE BARREL MYSTERY
of the Detective Bureau at Police Headquarters.
I told Hughes what I wanted. He was in the
Hughes brought it about so that the consign-
ment of olive oil to Lupo was held up, compel-
ling Lupo himself to write out a list of the goods
he desired to have admitted over his personal sig-
nature. The statement was then taken to a
handwriting expert and also the letter contain-
ing the counterfeit five-dollar bill was placed at
the disposal of the expert, who declared that the
handwriting of the letter and that of the state-
ment written by Lupo for his consignment of
olive oil was one and the same.
Now I had established a connecting link that
would stand the test of the courts. But there
were many other things about the letter that led
me to go further before making any allegation
against the wily Lupo.
It occurred to me it might be well to know
why the letter had been sent away out to a rail-
road camp in Portage La Prairie. I got men to
work on that end of the case. We found that
Andrea Pollara was a laborer in a railroad camp
at the address to which the letter had been sent.
Further, it was established that Andrea Pollara
TRACING A LETTER 231
was the agent of the gang in the camp where a
number of Italians were employed mending and
building spurs on the railroad. He had been
sent there to investigate and see whether it was
a profitable place in which to distribute some of
the spurious bills. Additional information dis-
closed the fact that the railroad camp had moved
and the letter having been addressed to Portage
La Prairie, and not being called for, was re-
turned to the address written on the back, Giu-
seppe Conti, No. 8 Prince Street. This cleared
up in my mind the reasons for the letter being
sent to the Canadian railroad camp and also the
cause of its being returned.
Other little connecting links were established
over which I was building a bridge to Lupo in
his Italian grocery store. It came to my mind
that Lupo had done quite some business with
Banker Acritelli, and Lupo was also on more
than familiar terms with Banker Pati. I knew
that Lupo and Inzarillo were very friendly. It
was found that the man to whom the letter had
been addressed to in Canada was not Andrea
Pollara. This was an assumed name. The
right name of the "Black-Hander" was Salva-
tore Maccari, who had a wife living in New
232 THE BARREL MYSTERY
York City. The net of evidence was closing on
While I was gathering the threads together,
the tragedy of the barrel murder came to public
notice. While the police of New York were
groping around in the dark, I submitted infor-
mation of which I have spoken previously in this
book, and the arrest of a number of the gang for
the murder of the victim in the barrel followed.
Among those arrested was Lupo. When he was
placed in custody his house was searched, and the
following letter, written in Italian, was found.
It was postmarked Portage La Prairie, Mani-
toba, Canada, addressed to Pietro Inzarillo, No.
226 Elizabeth Street, New York City, dated
September 4, 1902, and translated reads:
"By the present I give you the news of my
good health and of all the friends who are with
me, and so we hope to hear from you and all the
friends in New York, whom we respect. Mean-
time, I beg of you warmly to tell me when the
goods arrive, and to send me the samples of a
five in order to see whether we can do business,
prompt answer and samples. I and all the
TRACING A LETTER 233
friends salute you together with the friends, over
in New York, I am your friend Andrea Pollara.
My address is the following, Mr. Andrea Pol-
lara, Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, Canada.
P. S. Dear Paolo, I beg of you to send me five
dollars you or Ignazio (meant for Ignazio
Lupo) that as soon as I get my money I will
return them to you, nothing else, I am your
friend 'Salvatore Matisi.' Be so kind as to put
them in the letter of your friend, I am sure you
will favor me."
The reader will not require much taxing
of his thinking powers to realize that the re-
turned letter containing the counterfeit $5.00
note was written in response to the above
When Lupo was searched we found another
clue. A note book was found on him in which
the following entry is recorded:
"S. Matisi, sent to Canada $5.00 — to his wife
$5.00— ditto $4.00."
Opposite this entry, that is, on the opposite
page in the note book, is written :
"The name Matisi is mentioned a number of
times in this book as are also the names of a
234 THE BARREL MYSTERY
number of counterfeiters including Isadore Cro-
cervera and Giuseppe DePriema."
These entries were taken to a handwriting ex-
pert who declared that the handwriting was the
same as that in the letter which I started tracing
after its return here from Portage La Prairie.
These entries, however, were in English, and I
may note here that Lupo wrote English.
Twelve of the gang were arrested by the New
York police when they rounded up the crowd
incident to the barrel murder. Among those ar-
rested with Lupo was Pietro Inzarillo. When
the latter was arrested, his cafe at No. 226 Eliza-
beth Street was searched and a letter from Mac-
cari was found. The letter was postmarked
Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, Canada, dated
September 1st, 1902, and addressed to Pietro
Inzarillo, alias Saitta (Lupo's full name being
Ignazio Lupo Saitta), Elizabeth Street, New
York. The rest of the address is illegible. The
letter reads :
"Canada Pacife, August 31, 1902.
"With these few words I come to make you
a note of my perfect health, the same I hope to
TRACING A LETTER 235
hear from you, you brothers also, I desire to
know how your father has been ; therefore I rec-
ommend to you that affair that I left in your
charge. If my Uncle Thomas comes from
Ebgostien, do not forget the affair that is the
direction that you have given to Carmino, do
not let it go up in the air. As soon as possible
that you can, make it. Nothing else to tell you.
Give my regards to Paolo Marchese, regards to
Giuseppe Morello and John Pecorain and all
the friends that ask for me, with the best of
regards to you, I say your dear friend 'Salvatore
Matisi' accept the regards from Carmelo Blan-
dina. This is the direction — Salvatore Maccari,
P. O. Portage La Prairie Manitoba, Canada."
No comment is necessary concerning the let-
ter. It speaks for itself as another thread in
the net I was weaving.
It did not take agents of the Secret Service
long to "pick up" Maccari. He was not aware
of the fact that he was under surveillance for
some time prior to May 2, of 1902, when he was
placed under arrest at his home in No. 70%
James Street, New York City. When his
apartments were searched agents of the service
236 THE BARREL MYSTERY
looked under Maccari's bed and found letters
written from Portage La Prairie, Manitoba,
Canada, and signed Salvatore Maccari. These
letters were addressed to Maccari's wife, and con-
tained what is termed "rivetting" evidence.
Also, there were letters from his wife to Mac-
cari and addressed to him at Portage La Prairie.
When placed under arrest Maccari at first
denied that he knew either Lupo or Inzarillo,
and proved to be a proverbial Italian at giving
information to the police. He would not admit
that he had ever seen or heard of either of the
two men. He knew nothing about the counter-
feit money, and had never even seen any spun*
ous bills either in this country or in Italy. He
made the sign of the cross and called on the saints
to prove the truth of his lying statements. He
declared that he could not read, neither could he
Later on he admitted that he was intimately
acquainted with Lupo and that Lupo's father
and his father were great friends in Italy for
years and that both families were life-long
friends. He also admitted that he was well ac-
quainted with Inzarillo. He also declared that
TRACING A LETTER 237
the letters were written by a friend and signed
at his, Maccari's, dictation. And more evidence
was ferreted out.
The water mark in the billheads used by Lupo
in his grocery business was identical with that
in the letter sent to Portage La Prairie, and
having on it the return address of Giuseppe
Conti, No. 8 Prince Street. The envelope upon
which the return address was written was the
same make as the envelopes found in the cafe
of Inzarillo when that place was searched follow-
ing Inzarillo's arrest in connection with the bar-
On October 24, 1902, a registered letter ad-
dressed to Andrea Pollara, with the return ad-
dress P. Inzarillo and Giglio, was returned to
Lupo at his residence, No. 433 West Fortieth
Street. Pollara could not be located in the
Canadian camp and so the letter came back.
Lupo signed the receipt for the returned letter.
The handwriting was the same as in the instances
already related wherein the "Black Hander's"
scribbling was identified by an expert.
I will not weary the reader with further efforts
along this line of reaching one of the big chiefs
238 THE BARREL MYSTERY
of the gang as he stood far in the background,
certain of his immunity from any connection in a
legal sense with the distributor of the money
his brain had planned to build up his fortune on.
The method followed in enlisting Antonio
Schiavi into the service of the gang affords a
typical example of the cunning, watchful pro-
cedure of the Lupo-Morello secret propaganda,
which was in a fair way to become of world-wide
scope. A gang member, Giuseppe Gudo, man-
aged to send Schiavi to a drug store where he
was sure to meet Antonio Miloni. 1
Schiavi tells of leaving Rio de Janeiro about
February 23, 1909, on the steamship Gunther,
and arriving in New York in the middle of Feb-
ruary of the same year. While on shipboard he
became acquainted with Giuseppe Gudo, a tailor
of Newark, New Jersey. After striking up a
friendly acquaintance with Gudo Schiavi says,
and telling Gudo that he was a litho-engraver,
i Miloni was Treasurer of the Ignatz Florio Co-Operative
Association. He was indicted and confessed. He is now in
Italy a fugitive from justice.
240 THE BARREL MYSTERY
Bono sent him to the drug store of Mocito, af
No. 20 Broome Street, where Schiavi was to
ask for Giuseppe Carlino, another litho-engraver
who would get employment in New York for
Schiavi never met any Carlino, he says, but
Gudo had spoken about him (Schiavi), the lat-
ter learned at the drug store. Accordingly,
Schiavi continued to go to the Mocito store and
remained there for a half day at a time in the
hope of meeting Gudo. He was unsuccessful in
this, though, but often met Cecala at the drug
store. One day Cecala spoke to him, Schiavi
says, and suggested that with a little money he
(Schiavi) could start in a profitable business.
Cecala never said much more concerning this
business venture, though, to Schiavi, but one day
Cecala made a further suggestion that Schiavi
might help a certain man learn the photo-engrav-
ing business. This man, according to Cecala,
had been in the bicycle business, but had given
up this enterprise and was looking around for
employment that promised to be more remunera-
Finally, one day at the drug store, he was in-
troduced to Antonio B. Miloni by Cecala who
"BLACK-HAND" PROPAGANDA 241
told Schiavi that Miloni was the man of whom
Cecala had been speaking and who wanted to
learn the photo-engraving business.
Schiavi and Miloni had an extended conversa-
tion, and Schiavi agreed to go to the home of
Miloni and teach him the business. Then for
about six weeks or two months Schiavi went to
the home of Miloni daily, and taught the "Black
Hander" the essentials of the photo-engraving
business. At the end of that time, according to
Schiavi, Miloni discovered that he could proceed
by himself and announced to Schiavi that he
(Miloni) had joined the photo-engravers' union.
About a year or so after this, Schiavi says he
met Miloni on Third Avenue near One Hundred
and Fourteenth Street, and Miloni was on his
way home. The latter had in his possession,
Schiavi says, a camera and all the necessaries for
photographing. Also, Schiavi says, Miloni took
him along to a photo-engraving supply store at
No. 103 Mott Street, where the "Black Hander"
bought several kinds of the supplies necessary
to the photo-engraving business.
Schiavi then tells of making a rendezvous of
the Mocito drug store after this incident. He
met a man in the drug store by the name of Don
242 THE BARREL MYSTERY
Ciccio (Francesco) who made the drug store a
camping place. This Don Ciccio posed as be-
ing in the real estate business and declared that
he was an agent. What manner of agent he
was, Schiavi says, Don Ciccio never made clear.
This same Don Ciccio, according to Schiavi, once
asked him whether he were able to make plates
for money. Schiavi informed the real estate
man that he could make the plates, but preferred
his liberty to a term in the confines of a jail.
Miloni was present during the conversation be-
tween Schiavi and Don Ciccio, according to
Schiavi, but Miloni did not enter into the con-
versation. There were others who frequented
the drug store and who were identified by Schiavi
as members of the gang now imprisoned on the
charges of counterfeiting.
In many ways, too numerous to relate, in-
formation of this sort came to me until the Secret
Service was facing the onerous task of digesting
and coordinating it for its special needs to keep
the legal tender of the country secure.
The subtle, round-about manner in which the
"Black Hander" scatters the seeds of his prop-
aganda so that they will grow and bear fruit of
themselves and disarm suspicion is well-illus-
"BLACK-HAND" PROPAGANDA 243
trated in the way in which the attempt was made
to inveigle Schiavi.
Corleone is the home town of Morello and
Lupo, the arch-plotters. It is a place fascinat-
ing to the eye of the artist. Nestling at the foot
of Mount Cardellia, in the province of Palermo,
Sicily, it lies about two thousand feet above sea-
level and seems to be sailing in the clouds like a
phantom city of the Middle Ages.
Corleone means Lion-Heart. Korliun it was
named by the Saracens, who founded it and
made it a military stronghold in the picturesque
thirteenth century. Something of the savage,
marauding spirit of the Saracen, always a men-
ace to civilization, hovers about the place — a
savagery that has nursed into being a danger-
ous and powerful arm of the great Mafia or
"Black-Hand" Society of Italy. The town
holds only about twenty thousand inhabitants
and there is no industry to speak of. Palermo
is but twenty-one miles to the north of it. There
is a splendid old church in Corleone reminiscent
of the time when King Frederick II colonized
these parts with Lombardian peasants as early
One night in the year 1889, while on his way
244 THE BARREL MYSTERY
home, Giovanni Vella, Chief of the Sylvan
Guards, was murdered in a dark street but a
short distance from his residence in Corleone. A
bullet had torn its way through his back and into
his lung. Vella lasted but a few minutes after
the shooting, but long enough to cause a nasty
tangle for the police in their effort to solve the
murder. Vella lived just long enough to utter
a few remarks that were misused by Mafia in-
fluences to send an innocent man to prison for
Anna Di Puma, a neighbor, returning to her
house at that hou • had just passed through a
dark alley and noticed two men lurking in the
shadow. She passed close and looked into their
faces, recognizing one of the men as Giuseppe
Morello, whom she knew very well.
A couple of minutes later, even before she
had reached her door, she heard a shot and ran
back into the alley. There she found Vella ly-
ing in the exact spot where she had seen Mo-
rello and his companion apparently hiding but
a few minutes previously. Anna Di Puma told
the neighbors what she had seen. She was also
incautious enough to say that she was going to
"BLACK-HAND" PROPAGANDA 245
court to tell on the witness stand just what she
Anna Di Puma was shot in the back and killed
two days later while she was sitting on the door-
step of a neighbor's store.
Morello was arrested and charged with the
murder of the Di Puma woman. He was held
in prison to await trial, but powerful influences
of the Mafia were set to work and Morello was
discharged for lack of evidence. The only wit-
ness to the murder of Vella was dead. Two
lawyers of his band testified that Morello was
in Palermo with them and not in Corleone on
the night the Di Puma woman was murdered.
Michele Guarino Zangara, living in the next
apartment to Morello, who noticed when the
"Black Hander" arrived home and overheard the
conversation that followed between Morello and
his mother, was also murdered. He was thrown
off a bridge one night while on his way home.
He was found the next morning under the
bridge dead. This man Zangara had gone to
the accused man's house, three or four days after
the Chief of the Sylvan Guards was murdered,
and told the family of the man unjustly arrested
246 JHE BARREL MYSTERY
for the crime that he (Guarino) had overheard
Mrs. Morello say to her son:
"Peppe, what have you done? Now they will
come and arrest you," and in response to this
Morello said, "Shut up, mother, they have gone
on the wrong scent."
Zangara, being a man with a large family,
feared to tell what he knew because he felt sure
that Morello would murder him just as he had
slain the Di Puma woman. However, when the
accused man, Francesco Ortonello, was convicted
and sentenced to life imprisonment, Zangara
came to the front, declaring that his conscience
troubled him to see an innocent man sent away
for the murder of Vella. He went to the au-
thorities and told them that he was willing to
risk his life and tell the truth for Ortonello. The
authorities told Zangara that it would have been
better had he told it during the trial. Now it
was too late.
A few days after this the murder of Zangara
Morello was on his way to America at this
time, but the "Black Hander" had many power-
ful friends still watchful for his interests, and
some of these attended to Zangara.
"BLACK-HAND" PROPAGANDA 247
Pietro Milone, a police officer who tried hard
to clear Ortonello, was murdered one night on
his way home. The one who slew the officer
was never punished.
Biaggia Milone lived across the way from the
spot where Morello and his companion were seen
hiding, and this woman subsequently admitted
she saw the shooting and that Morello did it.
This woman is now in New York, and is the
cousin of Domenico Milone, who conducted the
grocery store at No. 235 East Ninety-seventh
Street, which was the headquarters and distribut-
ing plant for the Lupo-Morello counterfeit
money. The Milone woman has even stated
publicly that she would not testify to what she
knows in behalf of Ortonello in an effort to get
the old man out of prison where, she says, she
knows he is unjustly kept!
Ortonello's father, who tried to have his son
freed, was threatened with death several times,
and several shots were actually fired at him while
the old man sat in his own doorway. The marks-
manship was not good and the old man escaped
While Morello was in prison charged with
murdering the Di Puma woman he met Or-
248 THE BARREL MYSTERY
tonello in the prison. Morello admitted to Or-
tonello that he had murdered Vella, the chief of
the Sylvan Guards, for which crime Ortonello
was there in the prison awaiting trial. Morello
also informed Ortonello that if he and all his
family did not care to join Vella in the world
to come that the whole family had better be
careful of what they said and what charges they
made, and that any evidence tending to show his
(Morello's) complicity in the crime must be sup-
In order that the reader may view the fore-
going facts in proper perspective it will be neces-
sary for me to relate a little of the politics and
the relation of the so-called Mafia to the murders.
Vella, the murdered chief, was a very active
and knowing man. He had dug up a great
amount of evidence against the criminal band of
which Morello was a member, and which was un-
der the leadership of a very wealthy and power-
ful young man named Paolino Streva.
Vella had sworn in public that he would put
this band out of business in and around Corleone.
He also had decided to place Morello under sur-
veillance, which means that Morello would have
to be home every night at a certain time and sub-
"BLACK-HAND" PROPAGANDA 249
ject to be called at any hour of the night by the
police who would see whether he was behaving
himself. Also, Morello would be compelled to
make reports of his whereabouts and conduct and
what work he was at to Vella whenever the chief
should require it.
In return for the stand Vella had taken Mo-
rello swore publicly that he would be avenged on
Vella for this punishment.
Vella also knew of the extensive criminal oper-
ations of Streva and that Morello was Streva's
trusted lieutenant. Vella knew that Streva had
a great deal of influence with judges and other
public officials and even boasted that certain sen-
ators in Rome would do his bidding. Through
this influence Streva managed to get out of
prison a number of thieves, murderers and black-
guards who in turn would go to any extremes
for Streva. By crooked politics and sometimes
by fear Streva exerted a baneful influence over
the community the same as his uncle had done
before him, the uncle who had handed down the
wealth and political power that the younger man
enjoyed. All these things were well known to
A further circumstance must be related here.
250 THE BARREL MYSTERY
During the latter part of 1889, a large number
of cattle had been stolen in the neighborhood of
Corleone and the country people were making
many complaints. Vella had been working on
the case, and succeeded in rounding up facts and
evidence sufficient to strike a telling blow at the
Streva-Morello team and the rest of the Mafia
crowd. The chief was contemplating a raid on
the gang. The Streva crowd, however, were
tipped off that the arrest orders were about to
Beyond and behind all this there was a tense
political situation. Vella's term of office was
about to expire and election day was not far off.
Streva and his crowd feared Vella, but they
knew that they could not hope to beat the chief
for re-election if they opposed him with one of
their own crowd.
The "Black Handers" looked the field over
and hit upon Francesco Ortonello, who was a
man of upright life and character respected by
his townsmen for miles around. Ortonello's
father had been mayor of Corleone. An uncle
was the best-known priest in the southern ex-
tremity of Sicily. Ortonello, though, had never
meddled with politics, nor with the Mafia or any
"BLACK-HAND" PROPAGANDA 251
other organization. He was quite content to
mind his own business and devote himself to his
family. One day a committee of influential men
called on Ortonello, and after persistent argu-
ment induced him to run for the office of Com-
mander of the Sylvan Guards against Vella.
This induced Vella to suspect Ortonello for
being in league with the Mafia and intent on
spoiling all the good work done toward wiping
out the plundering band of which Morello was
Accordingly, with some liquor in him, Vella
went to Ortonello's house and hurled the follow-
ing at Ortonello, who did not understand the
political conditions that prevailed at the time:
"So, Ortonello," said Vella in a rage, "you
have dropped the mask. I never thought you
were one of the Mafia's puppets. I thought you
were an honest man, but evidently I fooled my-
This onslaught in his own house brought Orto-
nello to his feet. He grabbed a gun and forced
Vella to flee. Now, Ortonello's eyes were
opened. He realized that he had been duped
into accepting the candidacy against Vella. He
realized that his clean record of citizenship was
252 THE BARREL MYSTERY
to be used in order to beat Vella. He promptly
went to the authorities and notified them to can-
cel his name.
The Mafia was thrown into panic. The
bandits knew that Vella would win if Ortonello
did not oppose him.
The very night following Ortonello's can-
celling of his name for the office, Vella was mur-
Previously on the evening that he was shot
Vella had been making merry at the cafe "Stella
dTtalia" with a number of public officials and
was well "under the weather," as they say, when
he started for home. He was seen to rest
against a lamp-post. A neighbor offered him
assistance to his door but Vella refused.
As soon as the shooting took place there was
a commotion. Vella's wife, feeling that some
such fate would befall her husband, rushed out
terror-stricken and fell prostrate across the dy-
ing chief. The carabineers arrived and with
them a crowd of people. Vella was taken in a
dying condition to his house, which became
jammed with excited neighbors. Among those
present was Morello. He had hidden his gun
in a pile of rubbish at the river's edge and hur-
"BLACK-HAND" PROPAGANDA 253
ried into Vella's house to look for developments.
The hiding of the gun by Morello was testi-
fied to at the trial of Ortonello by a man named
Antonio Caronia, who, by the way, was not mur-
dered. He was a good shot himself, and had
the reputation of being able to mix it up with any
of the Morello crowd without much fear of the
The commander of the carabineers was a dear
friend of Vella's and had been dining with the
chief but a few minutes before the shooting.
The commander asked Vella who shot him and
the chief muttered:
"Cows, cows, — the Mafia." The chief also re-
cited a long list of names of the men he had been
camping after in his efforts to rid the community
of the Mafia band. At this the commander of
the carabineers interrupted the dying chief, and
told him he was naming too many men, and that
so many could not have done the shooting. The
result,, the commander told the chief, would be
that no one would suffer for the offense. The
commander then asked Vella whether he had any
quarrels recently and the chief answered:
"Yes, I quarrelled with Ortonello yesterday.
He wanted to take my job away — take the bread
254. THE BARREL MYSTERY
and butter from my wife and children — and he
threatened me with a gun."
The commander of the carabineers immedi-
ately directed his men to go and get Ortonello
and bring him to the house of the dying chief.
When Morello heard this order he smiled and
departed for his home. It was upon returning
there that the conversation took place which
Zangara declared he had overheard between the
"Black Hander" and his mother.
When the carabineers arrived with Ortonello
in their custody, Vella was in his last breaths.
When asked by the commander of the carabineers
if Ortonello was the man with whom he had
quarrelled on the previous day, Vella nodded his
head and fell back dead.
Another arrest followed that of Ortonello. It
was that of Francesco Orlando, who was also a
candidate against Vella. Orlando was tried and
sentenced to a term of fifteen years, which he
served and is now out. Needless to say that
Orlando's sympathies and activities are not di-
rected toward any movement favorable to the
The trial of Ortonello shows the methods of
the Mafia — methods that the Lupo-Morello gang
"BLACK-HAND" PROPAGANDA 255
would transplant to this country in the conduct
of the trials of our courts of their criminal
brethren if it could be done by them. Morello's
powerful friends brought it about so that the two
attorneys for Ortonello deserted him at the mo-
ment the case was to go to trial so that the un-
fortunate Ortonello was forced to take a young
lawyer who knew little of the details of the case
and who was not sufficiently versed in the prac-
tice of courts.
But worse still, the two attorneys that deserted
Ortonello on the eve of his trial had all along
advised him that his innocence was so evident
that no jury would ever convict him. It was
not, therefore, the attorneys told Ortonello, nec-
essary to go to any great pains to prove his in-
nocence. The value of this advice to the Mafia
crowd may be brought out more strongly when
I tell you that both of these attorneys were be-
traying Ortonello and keeping Morello's friend
Streva, the powerful young leader of the Mafia,
informed of every move of Ortonello. They ad-
vised Ortonello not to bring out any evidence
that would be injurious to Streva or Morello.
It would not be necessary to do this to prove his
innocence, the two attorneys told Ortonello.
256 THE BARREL MYSTERY]
In vain Antonio Caronia testified in Orto-
nello's behalf that he had seen Morello hide the
gun in the pile of rubbish at the river's edge
shortly after the shooting took place. To offset
this testimony of Caronia's, the Morello crowd
worked upon the police and had the gun spirited
away. Later on, it may be added here, the po-
lice official who was responsible for the hiding of
this gun at the time of Ortonello's trial, was
dismissed from the service for his conduct.
In vain did Ortonello's attorney bring out evi-
dence that the bullet extracted from Vella's body
was much larger than the calibre of the gun
found in Ortonello's home. Testimony was ad-
mitted at the trial to offset this. A Mafia hench-
man was produced who declared that the bullet
had been made larger because of hitting a bone
in Vella's body and thus flattening the missile.
In vain was it shown that a grocery wagon
had been placed in front of Ortonello's door more
than an hour before the shooting and that this
wagon had to be removed before the carabineers
could get admittance to Ortonello's house when
they went after him to bring him to the house
of the dying chief. In vain was it brought out
at the trial that Ortonello was in bed when the
"BLACK-HAND" PROPAGANDA 257
carabineers entered his room to take him into
custody. In vain was it shown that he could
not have got into the house or out of it while a
grocery wagon was backed up to his door an
hour previous to the time of the shooting and
was still there when the carabineers arrived to
arrest him. In vain was it shown that this gro-
cery wagon had been drawn up in front of Or-
tonello's door by the groceryman next door who
had come from Palermo that night with a large
amount of groceries, and when the mail stage
was to pass, and because the street was narrow,
the groceryman backed the wagon up to the door
and left it there until he could unload his goods.
In vain did the groceryman testify that he
was unloading his wagon when the shot was fired,
that he did not leave his wagon from thenmntil
the carabineers arrived, and that Ortonello had
not entered the house nor come from it during
that period. In vain was testimony given that
the grocery wagon, being backed up to the door,
prevented Ortonello from either coming out of
the house or entering it.
In order to contradict the testimony of the
grocer and three others who corroborated him
concerning the wagon, friends of Vella went to
258 THE BARREL MYSTERY
a prostitute who lived in the rear of Ortonello's
house and paid her money to testify that she had
seen Ortonello after the shooting climb a rope
and enter the rear window of this house. The
window was forty feet from the ground. This
woman is now dead, but before her demise she
told the truth and declared that she had per-
jured herself for the money given her by the
commander of the carabineers. This man was
very bitter against Ortonello because he believed
at the time that Ortonello had murdered his
To no avail was the testimony of an expert
shoe-maker who showed the court that the foot-
prints examined in the spot where Morello was
seen hiding by the Di Puma woman, just prior
to the shooting, were not the footprints of Or-
tonello nor of Orlando.
As further proof of the unfair trial suffered
by Ortonello let me relate that the commander
of the carabineers was so convinced of Ortonello's
guilt, and so determined to prove a strong case
against the unfortunate Ortonello that the com-
mander went to the house of Biaggia Milone and
frightened her by threats into testifying that she
had seen Ortonello and Orlando do the shooting,
"BLACK-HAND" PROPAGANDA 259
that she had seen this from the window of her
home, and that she had seen the two surveying
the ground on the previous Sunday. This is
the Milone woman whose cousin operated the
grocery store in East Ninety-seventh Street,
which was the headquarters distributing plant for
the Lupo-Morello counterfeit money.
For four years Ortonello remained in prison
at Palermo, where the case should properly have
been tried; but the Mafia crowd became fright-
ened at the public sentiment that was being
aroused in behalf of Ortonello and feared that
if he were tried at Palermo, where he was so
well known, and where the truth was slowly leak-
ing out, he would be set free. Through the in-
fluence of Streva the case was transferred to
Messina, at the other extremity of Sicily, where
Ortonello was tried and convicted. He was sen-
tenced to serve life imprisonment. Five of the
jurors believed him innocent.
Perhaps the reader is curious to know what
became of Paolino Streva, the young and power-
ful leader of the Mafia of that time, the protector
and patron of Morello. His fate will probably
serve as a warning and please the reader. He
is missing from the vicinity of Corleone for some
260 THE BARREL MYSTERY
time past. He quarrelled with Bernardo Verro,
the very popular leader of the Socialist party in
Corleone, and caused Verro to be shot. The
shooting was inaccurate, though, and Verro re-
covered. Then the friends of Verro thought
they would do a little shooting of their own, and
they attempted to hit Streva on three different
occasions, but were unsuccessful. Then Verro's
friends went after Streva still more effectively.
They burned down his house and barns and de-
stroyed his farm lands. Streva suddenly disap-
peared and his whereabouts are not known.
As for Morello, he is safely lodged in the At-
lanta Federal Prison on a sentence of twenty-
five years for counterfeiting. He is, however,
no longer in danger of being prosecuted for the
murder of Vella because the Italian Code pro-
vides that a man cannot be tried for a crime when
twenty years have expired after the committing
of the felony.
As for Ortonello and his family I can state
that his wife and children are now in New York
and prospering. The old man himself, I am
happy to state, is free through friendly influences
I have succeeded in bringing to bear on his case.
He has taken a new grip on life since the day of
"BLACK-HAND" PROPAGANDA 261
his release, even though he is broken in body
and weighted with years, showing plainly the
terrible suffering of his twenty-three years of
unmerited prison life. His spirit is revived and
his mind is clear. He prays for me and mine.
THE WATCHWORD OF THE BLACK-HANDERS"
"Have no fear — I am not asleep — and I have
not slept ever since that time!"
These ominous words were underscored in a
letter written by Morello, the arch-bandit, to a
friend in Palermo who had warned the chief to
be on his guard against betrayal in his extensive
criminal operations. The words "that time" un-
doubtedly refer back to the Corleone murders
that made the chief change his habitat from the
mountain haunts of the Mafia to the by-ways of
I have quoted Morello because in that ominous
sentence he has spoken the watchword of the
"Black-Handers" in New York City. The
criminal element among the Italians here is not
sleeping. At the time he penned these words
Morello had advanced to the leadership of the
THE WATCHWORD 263
worst and most elusive band of criminals that
ever slipped past the scrutiny of the Ellis Island
In contrast to the criminal element, the hon-
est Italians of New York City, and other large
centers of population in this country, are cer-
tainly sleeping. It is a restless, fearful sleep in
which they are indulging. A sleep from which
they will be aroused sometimes by a bomb at
their door, or by the stealing of the smallest child
in their household, or by a knife-thrust in the
dark. The Italian, the honest Italian, the good
citizen, knows that what I say is true.
But why does the honest Italian go back and
I sleep again when he knows that the same danger
is imminent still?
The honest Italian is drugged with fear.
He fears to open his mouth and tell the police
and the government officials about the threats
that have been sent to him by letter or by those
whom he knows are among the criminal ele-
ment. His mouth is closed with the drug of
fear. He goes back to sleep in silence not re-
alizing that by so doing he invites another crime
upon his household.
The antidote for the drug of fear is courage.
264, THE BARREL MYSTERY
Perhaps courage is not the correct word; I
mean rather disregard of threats. If the honest
Italians in this country would disregard the
threats of the very small number of criminals
among them, the "Black Hand" nuisance would
be wiped out before the sun returned to the
meridian many times. If the honest Italian
would help the police authorities by telling the
facts when threatened there would be a swift
ending of the "Black Hand" gang.
The reason for the fear in the mind of the
honest, and even the most intelligent, Italians is
born of the thought that such leaders as Morello
and Lupo, were more than human in their crafti-
ness, and had dark and mysterious ways of avoid-
ing the best detectives in this country, and that
they could even commit murder and laugh in the
teeth of the police. The answer to such a
thought is the sentences imposed on Morello,
Lupo and the other members of the gang now
confined in the federal prison. If there are other
leaders of less magnitude than these two, and
who have caused any Italian fear through threat
or otherwise, I invite such honest Italian to tell
me what he knows. There are cells unoccupied
in many prisons.
THE WATCHWORD 265
In conclusion I ask the honest Italian to dis-
regard the idea that the criminals of his race are
infallible and may not be reached by the law. It
is to honest Italians particularly that I send out
this book. I repeat the words of Giuseppe Mo-
"Have No Fear, I Am Not Asleep, and
Have Not Slept Ever Since That Time."
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY
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